GVPL has plans to reopen three more library branches this month

Three more Greater Victoria Public Library branches will reopen this month, with the goal of having all 12 of branches offering limited service by fall.

The Oak Bay branch, at1442 Monterey Ave., is scheduled to open Aug. 14, followed by the Bruce Hutchison branch (4636 Elk Lake Dr.) on Aug. 18, and the James Bay Branch (385 Menzies St.) on Aug. 25.

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Patrons will be able to find a specific area featuring a browsing collection with a selection of childrens and adult books, DVDs, audiobooks, and video games. These collections are updated frequently, said Maureen Sawa, the library’s chief executive.

Library users can also pick up items on hold and upgrade their library cards.

There are 5,700 hold items waiting to be picked up by patrons, Sawa said.

Since reopening, the system has seen a big demand for books for children, including picture books. Many young people are taking part in the system’s summer reading program.

Cookbooks and mystery and thrillers are also very popular, as are books on racism.

The library system started to gradually reopen on June 30. The Central, Juan de Fuca, Central Saanich and Saanich Centennial branches are open.

Each location is offering similar limited services. They are open Monday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to noon for seniors and those with medical conditions, and from noon to 4 p.m. for the general public.

The Langford Heritage and Emily Carr branches are only accepting returns.

Whenever another branch opens, there is a surge of interest, Sawa said. Some are bringing back bags full of books — 168,000 titles were on loan when the libraries shut their doors in March.

Reopening is a complicated effort, she said. Returned items are held for 72 hours in quarantine, and space is required for that.

At the same time, staff must social distance, with limits set out on how many people can be a in specific area. As a result, tasks take longer.

“We are working very, very hard to ensure everyone stays safe,” Sawa said. “It is very exact.”

It is not yet know when people might be able to browse the stacks as they once did, she said.

Online use of library resources has jumped compared with last year, with some areas up by 70 per cent, she said.

A new tool, called the Niche Academy, is now available, offering how-to videos to take library patrons through the online system. The videos are short and user-friendly, she said.

Tutorials cover subjects such as streaming music and movies, borrowing and downloading e-books, and taking classes on Lynda.ca. Online library users can go to gvpl.ca/help.

Funding from the Friends of the Library allowed for Niche to be offered to library cardholders.

Library users can call 250-940-4875 on Monday though Saturday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. with questions.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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