Business

Developing Delta: Libraries build communities

Gillian McLeod is the manager for Delta’s public libraries and says reducing the stigma surrounding illiteracy is key to convincing adults with literacy issues to come forward and seek help.  - Robert Mangelsdorf photo
Gillian McLeod is the manager for Delta’s public libraries and says reducing the stigma surrounding illiteracy is key to convincing adults with literacy issues to come forward and seek help.
— image credit: Robert Mangelsdorf photo

At the centre of any thriving community is a wide array of services, and Delta is no different.

With three libraries serving each of Delta's distinct communities, the local library system provides residents not only with free access to education and entertainment, but serves as a social hub as well.

2013 marks a historic year for local libraries, with Ladner Pioneer Library turning 50, the Tsawwassen Library celebrating 40 years since its founding, and the George Mackie Library in North Delta marking 30 years at its current location.

The three local facilities each serve tens of thousands of residents monthly, and in addition to the many services and programs offered at the libraries themselves, they also offer online access to e-books, music, and research databases.

But the library is so much more than a book repository, says Delta's library general manager Gillian McLeod, as they also offer a host of programming and provide a critical link to social services.

"The library is the first place people come when they move to the community," says McLeod. "It's a place to fill all needs, whether it's looking for a job, making a resume, taking parenting classes, or social media education."

Libraries can also provide public space for those without space of their own. As our population becomes increasingly urbanized, McLeod believes there will be a greater need for public spaces like libraries, not only as hubs of education, but as economic centres as well.

She sees libraries expanding to become “incubators” for small businesses, where people can telecommute or use library resources to get their Internet-based business off the ground.

"Libraries can support entrepreneurs, help develop business plans, and provide space for telecommuters," says McLeod. "If that's what residents want, that's what we'll provide."

Given libraries perform so many roles, it's no wonder McLeod says local realtors have told her that good libraries sell homes.

"We're building families here," she says. "Libraries are an important part of any community."

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