The Ashcroft Library recently turned 45, and it will soon be getting an upgrade to its interior. With that in mind, the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library (TNRL) is now asking residents to complete a survey about how they would like to use the library and its services, and what they would like to see at the branch.
TNRL Head Librarian Judy Moore says that the structure of the building is sound, and various upgrades have been made over the years, including new exterior hardiplank, a new roof, and LED lighting in 2016, and new carpeting and paint. However, she notes that the interior floorplan and millwork has remained largely untouched over the years, and it’s time that was updated.
“I don’t think we’ve used the library to its fullest potential. I thought the interior was about 2,200 square feet, and it’s actually 3,600 square feet, but when you walk in you get the impression that things are really tight. I think this is due to having barricades for sight lines. There’s lots of library shelving, because we have a very full collection.”
As of 2018 the library had 14,379 items in its collection, with users checking out 22,164 items that year. Moore notes that the branch has a very strong print collection and is growing its digital collection. “We want to have more opportunity to showcase botgh, and the current system doesn’t lend itself to that.”
Moore says an “Ah ha!” moment came when they realized the potential for a large room at the back. Currently used for storage, the original blueprints for the building show that it was the Branch Head’s office.
“I think that space is up for grabs, so we can make the best possible use of the footprint we have.”
Another similarly-sized room at the back of the building is very well used for programming, particularly during non-COVID-19 times. Moore says that since it has exterior access, it can be booked by different groups for use outside of normal branch hours.
She adds that between the library’s opening in 1975 and today there have been a lot of changes in the ways people use libraries.
“Based on what’s happening in other libraries, and best practices, we might see comments come forward about having a computer bar, more soft seating, larger children’s spaces. There may be an opportunity to look at getting more natural light into the building.”
The survey is not just for people who already use the library: the TNRL also wants to hear from non-users who have lapsed memberships, or residents who aren’t aware of the services the library offers.
“Part of the survey is an opportunity to educate people about what we have,” says Moore. “If people haven’t used the library for a long time they might be pleasantly surprised by what we have available.
“And we want to strengthen our partnerships with commuity groups, and really have them support the library in presenting community programming. That’s another key trend we’re seeing in public libraries, so we need to have space for that to occur.”
The upgrades at the library will be designed for the longterm.
“We’re planning for months and years ahead. The place itself needs a rethink, and we’re trying to be clever and cost-effective. We’ll re-use things where we can, but we could see some new furniture and colours, bringing more daylight to the space, and giving it a more open feel.”
The survey is available online at www.tnrl.ca, and paper copies are available at both the Ashcroft and Cache Creek libraries. Responses will be accepted (online and at the libraries) until Nov. 13, 2020, after which they will be assessed and the feedback gathered together, to support the TNRL in creating a plan.
Moore says she hopes that work on the upgrades will start in early 2021. “I’d love to have the project completed by the beginning of the second quarter of 2021.
“We really want to make it people’s ‘third place’: somewhere they want to spend time, meet up with friends, socialize, have a quiet time for study or reflection. A better quality of space overall will lend that to Ashcroft and area residents.”