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Province grants $123K in COVID-19 recovery funding to Burnaby Public Library

Chief librarian is considering using the funds for e-books, enhancing library space and supporting staff mental health.
Burnaby Public Library is looking to use new provincial money for e-books and in-person community events.

The B.C. government has granted Burnaby Public Library almost $123,000 in pandemic relief.

The funding, which is part of an $8-million COVID-19 relief grant to libraries across the province, is intended to cover unexpected costs associated with the pandemic and support recovery initiatives, including emergency preparedness.

Beth Davies, the city's chief librarian, said the library is grateful for the recognition of the role libraries have played during the pandemic.

“We’ve been this kind of island of normal for some of our regular patrons,” she said, noting the library has helped residents sign up for vaccinations and provided information to those without access to technology.

The library is considering using the funds to add more e-books to its collection.

During the pandemic, the use of e-books skyrocketed. Davies said the number of e-books checked out at Burnaby libraries increased by 209% in 2020 – then by another 26% in 2021.

Other ideas for the funding include hosting in-person community events.

“There's a hunger for community connection … it's something that people have felt a loss of in the pandemic,” Davies said.

The grant money could also be used for enhancing library spaces and supporting staff mental health.

Most of the library's $15-million budget comes from the City of Burnaby; the province kicks in about $500,000 annually.