News » Whistler

Whistler books circulating in Bella Bella

Northern library ruined by fire this summer is now rebuilt and back in business



Hundreds of books donated by Whistler residents are now in the hands of residents in the remote coastal community of Bella Bella after a community-wide effort to help the northern town re-stock following the destruction of their library by fire last year.

Bob Adams of The Grocery Store led the Whistler effort to collect books, and while he didn't keep track of the number of books collected, he said, "there were two skids about six feet (two metres) high by four feet (one metre) wide and four feet in depth.

"We wrapped them up in plastic to ship them on the barge.

"Every time we had a full box we shipped it down to Buy Low."

Buy Low Foods, The Grocery Store's supplier, offered to barge up supplies.

Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon attended the grand opening of the new library along with other guests who played a role in rebuilding the library.

The library shared space in a building that burned to the ground last July 19. Britco donated one of the structures originally used as a media commentator booth during the Olympic Winter Games in 2010 for the new library. When word of the fire in Bella Bella spread, a number of companies sprang into action with Britco to help the community in a number of different ways.

Other communities had similar ideas, so Bella Bella was swamped with books. The little remote coastal community eventually asked British Columbians to stop sending books because they had more than the community could handle.

Librarian Jessie Housty said rebuilding the library was an incredible process.

"I don't think this is how I ever would have asked for the transformation to happen, but it's been a really beautiful way to rebuild a new community space," she said from her new library.

"We've been very fortunate in the generosity of many, many people who helped to organize the new facility for us and stock it with tons of new books."

Housty said stocking the shelves and preparing the new space with 4,000 books was a lot of work. Some of the donated books were shared with the school in the community, and other institutions as well.

A few books went to Bella Bella families and some were passed on to other communities in the region.

Adams is pleased he could team up with Buy Low Foods, the Whistler Library and resort residents to help rebuild the library.

"I was really pleased with the support we got from the community," said Adams. "People just came out of the woodwork."