A decade in the making, Sooke’s long-awaited $7.5-million downtown library celebrated its official opening on Saturday, boasting 13,500 square feet of space, iconic circular architecture, learning spaces and 35,000 new books and collections.
“It really is quite spectacular – a cultural hub of learning and innovation,” said Gaby Wickstrom, Vancouver Island Regional Library board chair.
The event featured speakers from VIRL, the District of Sooke and the T’sou-ke Nation.
Among those attending the celebration were community members, local politicians past and present, library board trustees, library employees and Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison.
Guests were entertained with music, storytellers, Makerspace and raptor demonstrations.
“As anyone who has visited the Sooke region in recent years can attest, the community is developing quickly and is only poised to continue its growth,” said Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.
“Beloved though it was, the old library simply did not have enough space to meet community expectations any longer. We know that vibrant, well-used libraries are important indicators of healthy communities.”
Since the branch opened to the public on Feb. 25 it has circulated nearly 25,000 items. In April, the most recent month for which data is available, more than 5,000 visitors came through the doors.
And it’s not just Sooke residents who are benefiting. Library staff note more people are visiting from communities like Shirley, East Sooke, Jordan River and Port Renfrew.