Marsh lauds VIRL’s versatility

eBooks may be the future but physical libraries will still serve an important function in communities as technology advances over time.

According to Vancouver Island Regional Library, its members download more than 600 eBooks every day but of those tech savvy members, 88 per cent are still hooked on printed books as well.

For that reason and more, libraries still serve a vital purpose, councillor Kate Marsh told the rest of North Cowichan council.

Marsh is the municipality’s representative on the VIRL board of trustees.

Libraries are not just a place of refuge to quietly browse collections anymore, but are becoming a technological gateway and community hub for many as well, she explained.

"A membership to VIRL gets you access to close to a million items," Marsh said. "There is free Wi-Fi at every VIRL branch…you’re able to search online databases for information…and you’re able to request things from other branches."

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. "People can attend a variety of free programs from story hour for toddlers, to newcomer settlement services and everything in between. You can learn to knit, go to a movie screening, learn puppet making, chess, genealogy, learn Spanish, open mic readings…," she said. "I could go on and on."

Membership increased upwards of 14 per cent in 2013.

"The mission of VIRL is to enrich the lives of communities through the universal access to knowledge, lifelong learning and literacy by developing strong branches that are vital community hubs for knowledge, inspiration, innovation and renewal," Marsh said.

And, if the current offerings weren’t enough, on Feb. 14 VIRL announced a new digital service enabling library card-holders to borrow video, music and audiobooks via their computer, smartphone or tablet.

"The new service, called hoopla, offers thousands of movie titles, television shows, educational/instructional videos, documentaries, music and audiobooks – all accessible online," said a release issued Valentine’s Day.

Vancouver Island Regional Library cardholders can access hoopla through www.virl.bc.ca by clicking on the hoopla link. Users will be asked to sign into hoopla with their library card and PIN and create a hoopla account.