COVID-19 minimizes Okanagan Regional Library budget increase

Library adapts to pandemic fiscal disruptions

The Okanagan Regional Library (ORL) is financially weathering the economic storm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ORL board has received a recommendation from the board finance committee to include a .75 per cent funding increase for its 2021 budget, which works out to an actual decrease in the per capita cost to operate the ORL’s library system, the 16th largest in Canada with branches extending from Osoyoos across the southern Interior to Golden.

“In the past, we would typically look for a rate of inflation increase in our budget but our library board recognizes that people are feeling challenged right now so we needed to work to reduce our budget spending to what are seen as critical needs,” said Don Nettleton, chief executive officer of the ORL.

“We really are trying right now just to maintain what we have.”

Nettleton said the impact of COVID-19 has been felt by the ORL financially. The savings produced by library branch closures in March through to mid-May are balanced against the loss of revenue for that period and unexpected cost increase for cleaning and sanitation supplies and janitorial services, and additional costs for maintaining virtual services.

Since mid-May, the ORL has moved from virtual services to curbside pickup, and now the browse and borrow service model.

READ MORE: COVID-19 forces library to make changes

READ MORE: ORL joins fight against e-book restrictions

This model allows people to enter the library and browse the physical book collection and check them out via self-checkout stations.

Nettleton said in a typical year, the ORL will see a service circulation of about 2.3 million in circulation, but this year it will drop to about 1.8 million.

“Still the biggest part of that circulation figure is people taking out books, but the virtual services we offer continue to show growth, up to 50 per cent each year,” he said.

Nettleton said the ORL’s reopening steps have posed an internal challenge because of the volume and different needs of the various branches.

“Every site and branch had to have a risk assessment done, and our own procedures and policies had to be figured out as the needs of our downtown Kelowna branch and smaller branches in other communities were different.

“The geography was another challenge as moving books and materials around to different branches is a big part of what we do. That all stopped with the branch closures so it was a huge effort on the part of our staff to get that going again.”

With virtual services, Nettleton said some makerspaces such as the Westside Learning Centre will be reopened by the end of September. Similar facilities also exist in Kelowna and Golden.

Makerspaces are a place to find audio and video recording, 3D printing, coding, robotics, electronics and material cutting services offered by ORL.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Penticton Indian Band is opposing any hunting of local big horn sheep which are an at-risk population. (submitted photo)
Penticton Indian Band oppose big horn sheep hunts

Local big horn sheep are an at-risk population

A house on Highway 3A caught fire Sunday evening, Oct. 25, 2020.
House fire on Highway 3A in Keremeos

Neighbours acted quickly to help save home

x
Morning Start: Bubble wrap was originally intended to be wallpaper

Your morning start for Monday, Oct. 26, 2020

Game Cave Video Games Amusements has become a haven for Penticton gamers since its Oct. 14, 2020 opening. (Game Cave Video Games & Amusements / Facebook)
Gamers flock to new retro video game shop in Penticton

‘It’s like candy land for gamers,’ said one loyal customer

Roly Russell, the predicted MLA for the Boundary Similkameen, and his wife Christine Carlson celebrate on election night. (Contributed)
B.C. Votes 2020: Russell leads as election heads to mail-in counting

Russell is likely to replace incumbent BC Liberal Linda Larson

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

An Instagram post from Matty Rebman shows his injuries as well as a plea to the driver who struck him. (Instagram/Matty Rebman)
Hit and run kills dog, severely injures West Kelowna man

The car was abandoned but police could not locate its driver

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of Kelowna school

French-language school École de l’Anse-au-sable will remain closed until Nov. 4

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a vehicle that crashed into a Vernon home on 17th Street Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (City of Vernon photo)
Woman faces drunk driving charges after crashing Mustang into Vernon home

Vehicle occupants and one resident reported sustaining minor injuries in Sunday incident

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
BREAKING: Police situation unfolding in Lumby

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

NDP Leader John Horgan speaks with the owner of a barber shop while campaigning in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Campaigning was restricted by the coronavirus pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Barely half of eligible voters cast ballots in snap election

Most Read