The British Columbia government says it will provide a one-time funding boost of $45 million to public libraries across the province.
The investment will be shared between all 71 public library organizations in B.C., supplementing the $14 million in annual operating funds the province provides.
The B.C. municipal affairs ministry says the money will be dispersed on March 31 to help local libraries expand their operating hours and grow their digital collections.
“From offering regular access to the internet, to delivering programs for families, newcomers, job seekers and seniors, this funding will go a long way to ensure libraries are helping people stay connected, access information and continue their lifelong learning,” B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang said in a statement Friday.
Last spring, the province doled out a one-time investment of $8 million to help libraries retroactively cover pandemic costs, meet the increased demand for digital content, upgrade physical spaces and deliver technology training.
The province says British Columbians accessed digital resources from the province’s libraries almost 16 million times in 2021, a 47 per cent increase over 2019.
Erin Hemmens, chair of the Vancouver Island Regional Library board of trustees, said the funding comes at a time when island libraries are striving to increase their digital resources.
“Support from the ministry means VIRL can look at new opportunities to build literacy and learning, continue our journey toward reconciliation and build connections across our service area,” Hemmens said.