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

Robbie Weir’s “Bee Happy In The Garden” is on display during Hope Arts Gallery’s Retrospective 12 show. (Photo/Hope Arts Gallery)
Hope Arts Gallery “Retrospective 12” show is open

Runs until March 28, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday

Hope Mountain Centre volunteers carry wood along the Dragon’s Back trail. The trail is all but ready for hiking as of the Hope Council’s Feb. 22 meeting, promising a challenge worth the “million dollar view of Hope,” said Kelly Pearce. (Photo/Hope Mountain Centre)
2020 a busy year for trails in ‘Hope’s backyard’: Mountain Centre

Program director Kelly Pearce recapped last year’s activities to council

District Hall, Hope (Photo/Adam Louis)
Council Preview for March 8

Meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Monday via Facebook

The incident occurred at approximately 10 a.m. amid heavy rains on the 29900 Block of the highway, near the Silverdale community. Shane MacKichan photo.
VIDEO: Late-night rollover crash on Lougheed Highway in Mission sends 2 to hospital

Jaws of Life used; patients sustained non-life threatening injuries

Snow is still coming down in Hemlock Valley. (Emil Anderson Maintenance/Twitter)
VIDEO: Spring is coming, but snow sticking around in Hemlock Valley

If you’re up the mountain, don’t put away your toques just yet

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

The driver of a pickup truck failed to stop after knocking down a wooden fence on March 3, 2021. (screen grab)
VIDEO: Footage catches pick-up driver smash fence on Abbotsford/Langley border

Driver came forward after video circulated on social media

Lower Mainland teens with Ocean Wise’s YouthToSea program have launched an initiative called Clean Coastal, Eat Local, through which they’re offering restaurant gift cards to individuals or households that organize a coastal cleanup in the month of March. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise)
Teens challenge Lower Mainlanders to clean up their act

YouthToSea offers restaurant gift cards in exchange for a cleaner coastline

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Most Read