Chief Librarian Margaret Hodgins, Sechelt Mayor John Henderson, Sechelt Councillor Mike Shanks and shíshálh Nation Councillor Jordan Louie sign a service agreement that will guarantee a stable budget for BC’s third-busiest library. Photo Heather Jeal
The signing of a historic five-year service agreement with its local government partners on Friday, January 24, moved the Sechelt Public Library Association (SPLA) to a ‘per capita’ funding basis that will guarantee a stable library budget for the next five years. Stepped increases will eventually bring local funding in line with the provincial average. It marks the first time that the SPLA has a written contractual relationship describing the support of its work operating the Sechelt Public Library.
To mark the shíshálh nation’s historic participation in the occasion, drummer Andy Johnson opened the ceremony with a traditional shíshálh song of welcome.
Board Chair Dan Fivehouse noted the SPLA is “probably the largest non-profit entity on the Coast, with 10,800 registered members from Roberts Creek to Jervis Inlet.” Anyone holding a Sechelt library card is a member of the SPLA. Statistically the third-busiest library in BC (on a per capita basis), Fivehouse noted it has been “historically underfunded” and this new agreement will provide a level of assurance for the Chief Librarian when preparing the annual budget.
Margaret Hodgins, who stepped into the Chief Librarian position January 2, explained that “Bringing our funding to ‘per capita’ level is a commitment to our community. We plan on using this stable source of revenue to continue developing meaningful and forward thinking programs and resources designed for this distinct community. Lifetime learning, literacy and celebrating ideas – printed and digital – are the keystones of the library.” Hodgins noted that with base funding stable and predictable, her time can be devoted to developing literacy programs and building the collection.
Local funders provide the money for the core operating functions of the Library – covering wages and benefits, maintaining the physical plant, keeping our technology base current and constantly acquiring new material. The taxpayers of Sechelt make the most significant contribution, with additional funding provided by Halfmoon Bay (SCRD Area B), Roberts Creek (Area D), Pender Harbour/Egmont/Jervis Inlet (Area A) and the shíshálh Nation (SIGD).