After years of working from a severely undersized facility, the staff at the Summerland branch of the Okanagan Regional Library now have a new and larger building.
The new building, on Main Street, is more than twice the size of the former building on Wharton Street.
For those who have used the Wharton Street building, the need for the expansion had long been apparent.
The former building was crowded at the best of times and during special functions, the limited space became painfully obvious.
According to records kept by library staff, the branch counted more than 70,000 visits each year.
These visits extended far beyond avid readers signing out books for casual reading.
Users included members of book clubs and other organizations meeting in the facility, children in the Summer Reading Club as well as visitors and seasonal workers in need of Internet access.
Many people need and use the services of the library branch.
This volume of use indicates that the new building is a necessity, not a luxury for the community.
While the service of a library is needed, the branch also has the potential to bring economic benefits to Summerland’s downtown core.
Library users will now be just a few steps and no more than a couple of blocks from Summerland’s downtown businesses.
The Wharton Street building, while only a block off Main Street, felt more distant since the storefronts were not visible from that location.
In the years to come, the role of the library will continue to evolve and in time, the newly opened Main Street facility will no longer be adequate for Summerland’s growing needs.
A library is a facility which must grow with the community if it is to provide the level of service the people of Summerland require.