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Sunday closures: a tale of three libraries

Insufficient budget is behind the practice of Coquitlam Public Library closing its two branches on Sundays during the summer months. - CRAIG HODGE/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Insufficient budget is behind the practice of Coquitlam Public Library closing its two branches on Sundays during the summer months.
— image credit: CRAIG HODGE/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

Besides malls, libraries are ideal places to go to be informed, entertained and enlightened when summer’s heat gets unbearable and television is in re-runs.

But not all Tri-City residents seeking the cool respite of a library on a summer Sunday will find it because only Port Moody Public Library is open Sundays year round while Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam libraries are closed Sundays in June, July and August.

If you want to get a book on a Sunday in either of CPL’s branches (Town Centre and Poirier), you’ll now have to wait until the weekend after Labour Day while Terry Fox Library won’t re-open Sundays until the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Why do they close one day on the weekend, when people are looking for things to do? The story is different for each city.

PoMo’s library has managed to keep its doors open on Sundays since 2006 and last year made a policy to stay open on most long weekend Sundays, too.

“The opening on Sundays of long weekends was accomplished within our existing budget; no additional funds were requested from the city,” said PoMo’s director of library services, Lynne Russell.

That’s good news for PoMo residents, who punch above their weight class when it comes to library circulation. But some of their books may be in the hands of Coquitlam and PoCo residents looking for library services on Sunday, although Russell couldn’t confirm that.

For PoCo, the demand for Sunday openings in summer isn’t high, according to Terry Fox Library manager Pat Dawson, who said the popular downtown library started Sunday openings for fall and winter in 2003 to meet the needs of families and students.

“It’s more spaced out in the summer,” Dawson said of the demand for library services, noting that patrons have a wide range of summer programs to join and can still visit the library six days a week and to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday.

Contrast that with Coquitlam — the biggest city with the most library space — where residents have been clamouring for Sunday summer openings for years but the library can’t afford it.

“In the last couple of years, city has directed us not to ask for anything new and we have been very diligent in trying to do that,” said CPL director Rhian Piprell.

But that could change with next year’s budget, when the library looks at ways to capitalize on renewed interest in library services predicted when the Town Centre branch moves from it’s current location in the ground floor of city hall to expanded digs at Henderson Centre.

“It’s one of the things that people regularly ask for. It’s a fairly high priority,” Piprell said, noting finding the money will be challenging because the city is already taking out a loan to pay for the $9 million facility, although payments will be made with casino funds.

An announcement is expected soon on the new Town Centre branch, which will be three times the size of the current space in city hall and which now attracts about 6,000 visits a week. The city was expected to take possession of the ground floor at 1169 Pinetree Way late this month but the space will have to undergo extensive renovations.

Meanwhile, the Poirier branch continues to be popular after its $3-million facelift, which added new study space and meeting rooms.

And limits to opening hours haven’t kept away patrons and circulation continues to climb, with the city spending about $400,000 on books and resources, including eBooks, this year.

Still, PoMo has the edge on night-time opening hours, too, and is open until 9 p.m. on Fridays, while the other two libraries are only open until 5 p.m. on that day.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

 

Local libraries...

 

FACTS & FIGURES

LIBRARY    CIRC.    BUDGET

Coquitlam    1,375,000    $4,000,000

Port Coquitlam    402,095    $1,539,243

Port Moody    603,528    $1,693,380

 

CITY        POPULATION

Coquitlam    126,594

Port Coquitlam    57,431

Port Moody    33,900

– BC Stats estimates

 

Bored this summer?

Tri-City libraries have several programs for children and adults. To find out more, visit:

• library.portmoody.ca

• library.coquitlam.bc.ca

• fvrl.bc.ca/read/library_terryfox.htm

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