The Fraser Valley Regional Library board of directors recently finalized its budget. (Black Press Media files)

The Fraser Valley Regional Library board of directors recently finalized its budget. (Black Press Media files)

Fraser Valley Regional Library budget not enough to keep up with booming population

Almost $5 million of books, DVDs, and ebooks to be purchased in 2021

The Fraser Valley Regional Library budget approved in December won’t be enough to keep up with the growing demand for books, DVDs, magazines and other materials as the population and cardholders increase.

The directors of the FVRL board met virtually on Dec. 9, and approved a 2021 budget that includes a 1.98 per cent increase in overall spending, and a two per cent increase in purchases of books and other borrowing materials.

However, the budget report notes that is not enough money to keep books bought per capita steady.

“Because of COVID, we went to a bare-bones budget,” said Gayle Martin, Langley City councillor and chair of the library board.

Martin noted she was actually surprised that the vast majority of the board voted for the middle of three budget options, rather than an even lower-cost option.

“We know how important the materials are to our population,” she said.

Port Coquitlam councillor Nancy McCurrach was the only board member to advocated for the lower option.

“This year, it could be the year to hold off,” she said, based on the impact COVID has had on municipal finances. Based on advice from her council and Port Coquitlam staff, she was voting for the smallest tax increase, she said.

The total increase in the FVRL annual budget will be $534,492, spread across its 13 member municipalities and two regional districts on a per capita basis.

The budget “requires about a four per cent increase in spending to maintain the same level of per capita purchasing power in 2021,” the report to the directors said.

The budget reports that even the four per cent increase, which would have maintained purchasing power, would not provide any extra funds for areas where demand has been increasing sharply – ebooks and audio books, Sphero robots, birding backpacks, telescopes, and other special items.

So far, the report noted, items like the Spheros and birding backpacks has been funded by donations.

The total spending on books and other materials in the 2021 budget is set at $4.835 million.

As demand for ebooks and other items has increased, spending on traditional books has actually dropped substantially. FVRL spending on traditional paper books has dropped about 10 per cent over the last seven to 10 years, its own reports say.

While the FVRL is buying fewer paper books, the digital side can’t keep up with the new demands of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has spurred a dramatic increase in digital materials usage, and while FVRL has responded by shifting spending to this area, the digital collection simply does not have the same level of depth and variety as the physical collection,” the budget report says.

The lower spending on new books and materials has now been going on for the last five years, the budget notes. Even the four per cent increase in materials spending wouldn’t have brought the FVRL back up to where it was before 2015, the report said, referring to the decrease in the book budget as a “short-fall.”

The cities and towns served by the FVRL has been growing rapidly, and it is now the largest library system in the province by the number of cardholders.

According to the FVRL’s 2018 annual report, there are 356,053 active cardholders to the system, out of a population of 778,112 people.

By comparison, Vancouver Public Library (VPL) had 269,626 cardholders out of a population of just over 630,000 people.

However, FVRL has fewer loans of books and physical materials per year, at 5.5 million in 2018, compared to VPL, which saw 7.4 million loans in the same year.

The FVRL does not have a fundraising foundation, while both Vancouver and Surrey Public Libraries have dedicated charities.

The budget was developed as though it were for a normal year, with the understanding that COVID-19 had made 2020 and 2021 anything but normal.

Libraries across the province were closed, and the FVRL operated for several months by allowing books to be taken out only via online requests and pickups outside of libraries.

The Libraries Branch was recently moved from being under the auspices of the provincial Ministry of Education, and is now overseen by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

BooksFraser Valley Regional LibraryLangleyMetro Vancouver

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment Canada says the Eastern Fraser Valley will enjoy plenty of sunshine this week. (Black Press News File)
Sunny weather to stay around all week in Eastern Fraser Valley

Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Hope all forecasted for a week free of rainfall

Former Merritt Centennial and current Chilliwack Chief Jackson Munro (left) evades Merritt’s Chase Cook during a weekend BCHL game at the Chilliwack Coliseum. (Darren Francis photo)
Goalies lead Chilliwack Chiefs to pair of wins in weekend BCHL action

Mathieu Caron picked up a shutout Friday and Jakob Gullmes earned his first BCHL victory Sunday

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld has called for the resignation of B.C.’s Minister of Education, Jennifer Whiteside. He made the call during a speech in Vancouver on April 10, 2021, in a rally for a parent embroiled in legal battles surrounding his child’s transition.
Chilliwack school trustee calls for B.C.’s minister of education to resign

Barry Neufeld spoke at rally for jailed father in Vancouver, calling SOGI 123 a ‘dangerous experiment’

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. The Vancouver Canucks say 25 players and coaches have tested positive during a COVID-19 outbreak that involves a variant of the virus. It is now the biggest reported outbreak in the NHL this season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks’ return to practice pushed back as player added to COVID protocol list

COVID outbreak has led to eight games being cancelled

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Most Read