By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Printed books will always be a part of libraries, but other sources of information will increase in importance, and the libraries themselves will change, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board of directors heard Friday, Oct. 24.
A board workshop was presented with results of consultation with library system users and staff that will eventually form the basis for a new strategic plan that will
try to answer the question, “What kind of library do we want to be to meet the present and future needs of TNRD’s residents?”
Two dozen public meetings were held throughout the library region, including a well-attended session at Sun Peaks that drew several residents of Whitecroft (Area P — Rivers and the Peaks) to gather input.
The study found that changes in technology are accelerating and concluded that library staff will have to be trained in a broad range of technologies used by the public to access information. People also want libraries to be community hubs rather than simply places to borrow books and other materials.
Consultant Daphne Wood, director of planning and organizational development for the Vancouver Public Library, presented the findings and was peppered with questions from the board about the future of libraries. Some board members felt libraries should be operated on a business model, while others worried about going into competition with businesses.
It was suggested that public libraries should take a marketing page from book stores such as Chapter’s and create a meeting-place atmosphere that includes coffee shops and possibly other merchandise. However, the basic purpose of libraries will remain unchanged — a place to connect and a means for lifelong learning opportunities. And while it’s expected that digital materials will make up half of libraries’ archives within a few years, print isn’t going anywhere, said Woods.
“There will always be print.”