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New COVID-19 recovery cash for libraries won't impact Coquitlam layoffs: director

Coquitlam and Port Moody public libraries are getting combined grant funding of nearly $150,000 to upgrade programs, including its digital collections.

Two libraries in the Tri-Cities will get nearly $150,000 in new COVID-19 relief and recovering cash from the provincial government.

This week, it announced the Coquitlam Public Library, which has two branches at City Centre and Poirier, will get $97,555.

The Port Moody Public Library, based at the city hall, will receive $48,741.

The one-time injections are aimed at adding to digital collections and internet access, upgrading spaces and programming, and improving air circulation.

Todd Gnissios, the executive director of the Coquitlam Public Library, told the Tri-City News its grant will be spent on:

  • Expanding programming and services for seniors
  • Updating the Emergency Preparedness Plan
  • Increasing the lendable tech inventory, and updating and replacing work-from-home technology
  • Developing new and exciting programming to better serve the community

Gnissios also said the money can’t be used for operations or labour and "will not affect any previously reported staffing announcements," he said.

Last month, the Tri-City News reported up to 15 staff would see their hours cut or be laid off to address a $177,000 shortfall.

"Coquitlam Public Library gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs," he stated in a news release.

"We are dedicated to continuing to provide Coquitlam residents with inclusive, innovative spaces and services that promote learning and knowledge throughout Coquitlam."

A total of $8 million in COVID-19 relief and recovery funding is being distributed between 71 public libraries, six library federations and three library service partners in B.C.

The ministry did not immediately return a request for comment about funding for Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Library, which is part of the Fraser Valley Regional Library network.