One would hope Okanagan Regional Library won’t make any rash decisions regarding a significant decrease in use at two branches.
Circulation in Oyama was down 22.89 per cent in 2011 while it dropped 27.29 per cent in Cherryville.
It’s not a good situation and immediately closing the doors may be the immediate gut reaction. But before any decisions are made, it must be determined why residents aren’t walking through the door.
Is it because people are abandoning books for new technological devices? Or is it because other activities — sports or cultural — are diverting interest?
It could be, though, that ORL policies have played a role, including only having these branches open for about eight hours a week. That makes it inconvenient for residents — and particularly families and those working — to get there.
Are the collections in the small branches being kept up-to-date like their larger counterparts or are the resources stale and unattractive to patrons?
Director Lisa Cameron also makes a good point when she says one year can’t be considered in isolation. “I want to look at comparables over time.”
Obviously ORL has to be fiscally responsible with tax dollars and operating a branch that doesn’t get sufficient use must be scrutinized.
But libraries are among the very few public services these communities get for their taxes. They also provide convenience, especially for those living in Cherryville, which is some distance even from Lumby.
Tough decisions may ultimately have to be made, but let’s hope due process is followed first.