The newest branch of the Greater Victoria Library system will open Monday, April 9 in James Bay.
We joined Jennifer Windecker, director of public services and Maureen Sawa, CEO of the GVPL for a sneak peek at the sxʷeŋ’xʷəŋ taŋ’exw James Bay Branch in the Capital Park development on the corner of Superior and Menzies streets.
Pronounced s-hweng hw-ung tongue-oo-hw, sxʷeŋ’xʷəŋ taŋ’exw is the Lekwungen name for James Bay, joining seven other GVPL branches whose names also reflect their geographic locations.
“Public libraries today are much more than collections, they’re really focused on making connections,” says Sawa, who calls the new 7,150 sq. ft. branch a “community living room.”
Comfortable seating, spacious design, a wi-fi enabled outdoor reading space, and communal meeting spaces with an accessible universal washroom and kitchenette all work to convey that feel, amidst a colour palette of cozy hues.
In 2015, GVPL staff conducted a survey asking what residents wanted to see in the new space, and Windecker says community suggestions became the foundation for the planning of the new branch.
“We were surprised to hear that what they wanted was the traditional and the innovative all in one,” she explains. “They wanted the collection but they also wanted the technology.”
Windecker calls the library a space for people of all ages, doing all kinds of activities, because “that’s what libraries are nowadays.”
The 12,000 brand new materials at the James Bay branch will circulate across the GVPL system, hopefully easing up on some hold times for newer, more popular titles.
“When we add a branch it really lifts up the entire system,” says Sawa.
Books, movies, music, and audio books are all available as well as 18 accessible computer stations, a newspaper rack and multiple check-out kiosks.
Unique to the new branch will be a collection of easels available for loan to support creativity in the arts across Greater Victoria. And, the new location is also home to one of three automated material handling machines within the GVPL system, allowing automatic check-in 24/7 with touch-screen technology.
The GVPL is planning a grand opening for the new branch later this spring.