OKANAGAN - The Okanagan Regional Library has already cut services at some branches, and more are on the chopping block.
It’s all part of a process to improve equity at the regional library’s 29 service locations, after a financial audit found some discrepancies. Some branches, including those in West Kelowna, the City of Kelowna, the Westbank First Nation, Lake Country, South Shuswap, Summerland and Osoyoos, can expect improved service levels over the next few years. But to do that, the regional library has to take service away from other branches.
According to executive director Stephanie Hall, that’s already happened in some communities. Enderby said goodbye to two staff hours a week, and Revelstoke lost six staff hours a week. Greater changes are imminent in Naramata, where 6.5 staff hours are being trimmed, and in Princeton where 12.5 staff hours will be lost. Both branches will see a reduction in business hours.
The Salmon Arm library won’t be open on Sundays as of March 2015, unless a new funding source is found. The branch will also see a gradual reduction of 28 hours of reference librarian time, 17 hours of circulation assistant time, and four hours of student page time.
Consultation with staff and the library union is ongoing at the following branches: Vernon, North Shuswap (Scotch Creek), Keremeos, Oliver, Silver Creek, Kaleden, OK Falls, Lumby, Cherryville, Falkland, Peachland, and Sicamous. Potential changes at those branches have not been disclosed.
The regional library is looking for feedback on the changes through an online survey.
“We really want to target what matters to people,” Hall says.
Community members are encouraged to state what services they truly do not want to lose if their branch is receiving cuts, and on the flip side, what those expecting greater service levels want to see added.
Additionally, there will likely be some town hall meetings, but places and times have not yet been set. Hall says there may be consultation with local schools as well.
“I take this very seriously,” Hall says. “At the heart of our service is our fantastic staff and our patrons. For us, it’s important to hear all their voices even though it’s difficult.”
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