Greater Victoria Public Library board chair Rob Martin and GVPL CEO Maureen Sawa discuss plans for the new James Bay library branch. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

James Bay library branch to be part of busy office/commercial/residential hub

New branch will be second for City of Victoria, opening in early 2018

It may not come as a surprise to those who live in James Bay, but the area is home to a high concentration of library users.

That fact is one of several reasons the Greater Victoria Public Library chose to locate a new branch there, specifically in the Capital Park development at the high-profile corner of Superior and Menzies streets.

“We like to be where the people are,” says GVPL CEO Maureen Sawa, giving as examples the two newest branches, Langford Heritage in a busy residential area and the relocated Emily Carr library in Uptown.

“We see ourselves as a kind of a community living room, it’s a connector, a way to connect people of all ages to ideas [and a way] to generate creativity and content development.”

The regional library system’s 12th branch – it’s the second for the city of Victoria – is due to open sometime in early 2018 by best estimates. Like the aforementioned branches, it is “purpose-built,” meaning it isn’t taking over a space previously used for a different function.

“The new branch in James Bay is going to be very much a 21st century library,” Sawa says. “We’ll have a lot of space for people to meet – the input we received was that they wanted a community gathering space, meeting room space, space for parents and children, lifelong learning for some retirees … The key is flexibility.”

The new James Bay library was a part of the City of Victoria’s original plan for Capital Park, which offers a mix of office space, commercial space and residential units. Not only will the branch have a captive market of readers close by, its design creates a facility that can be shaped and fitted to meet a variety of functional needs. Shelving will be movable to allow for community events, and its large windows will offer street traffic and pedestrians a clear view inside.

Similar to when the Langford Heritage Branch opened last year, the opening day collection at James Bay will feature the latest fiction and non-fiction books, the popular Fast Reads seven-day bestseller book collection, audio books, musical CDs and TV series DVDs, video games, magazines, large print books and more.

A Teen Zone, which offers youth library users a less silent environment, and a children’s area filled with a variety of materials for young and emerging readers, are also part of the design.

GVPL communications and development director Daphne Wood points out that visiting one of the system’s interconnected branches is just one one way for library users to access its materials and services.

We have 11 physical locations and one virtual one where anyone with a library card, or even without one, can connect with the library and its programs,” she says.

The GVPL looks forward to hearing from James Bay readers about their interests. While materials are circulated around the system, more examples of certain topics wind up being located at certain branches, Sawa says.

The expectation is for this branch to become an integral part of the neighbourhood, notes Rob Martin, a Colwood councillor and chair of the GVPL board.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of enthusiasm around people being able to utilize this,” he says. “Libraries are an anchor and they’re one of the pillars to our communities. It’s a matter of once you have it there, people recognize what an importance difference it’s making. We’ve already discovered that with Langford and I think we’re going to discover that, possibly even more so, in James Bay.”

The library will add a quality of life to an already walkable neighbourhood, he adds.

While the design and services were largely determined following a community consultation period in 2015, the GVPL is anxious to show the public what they’ve come up with for the new branch.

A public open house is being hosted Saturday, Nov. 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Central branch on Broughton Street, to share details of the new James Bay library.

For more information, visit gvpl.ca.

City presents Name That Library contest

Are you happy with the name James Bay branch, or would you like the name of the GVPL’s next location in Victoria to be more reflective of someone or something related to the neighbourhood or city history?

The public has a chance to offer suggestions through an online/email survey that opened this week and ends at midnight Nov. 19. To take the online survey, simply log on to victoria.ca/NameThatLibrary and follow the steps, or send an email with your chosen name for the branch along with your rationale, to NameThatLibrary@victoria.ca.

Of the current 11 branches in the Greater Victoria Public Library system, four have commemorative names and seven reflect geographic locations. While there’s no limit to how many suggestions an individual submits, only one per survey or email is requested.

The Name That Library! campaign is not a vote. Suggested names will be submitted to Victoria city council for consideration. The name of the new library will be announced in December.

editor@vicnews.com

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