For the first time in history the Sechelt Public Library has a formal funding agreement to secure its operating funds for the next five years.
The five-year service agreement between the library association and local funders was signed during a ceremony at the District of Sechelt on Jan. 24.
"This is the first written agreement that we've had, which resolves a number of historical problems," library association chair Dan Fivehouse said at the event. "We've always had a complicated structure in this area because of the extraordinarily prolific number of funders that we have. The District of Sechelt is our primary funder, the Sechelt Band is a funder and three different areas of the SCRD (Sunshine Coast Regional District) contribute to what's called the local fund of the library."
Those areas include Halfmoon Bay, Roberts Creek and Pender Harbour/Egmont.
Fivehouse explained that each area gives each year to the core funding of the library, paying for things like staff salaries and benefits, maintenance of the building and purchasing new materials.
"In the past there have been no rules on how this takes place and the chief librarian frequently spent much of her time as a fundraiser, trying to pull together the various funds," he said. "This is not a smart thing for us to be doing, and considering the fact that we are statistically the third busiest library system in British Columbia on a per capita basis, it makes sense that we have something more stable in place.
"What this agreement gives us is a surety moving forward. The local funders agree that the library should be funded on a per capita basis like other public institutions. They agree that we are underfunded for an operation of our size and this agreement sets out steps for us to come close to a more adequate provincial average over a period of time. It won't happen overnight. It might take 10 years, but the first five are covered by this agreement."
Treasurer Tina Perreault, speaking on behalf of the SCRD, noted the agreement was the result of a "very collaborative effort," by all parties.
"I think this is very monumental and I think probably the reason why the library feels this level of ceremony is required for this event, because there is a lot of history that comes along with it," she said.
Chief librarian Margaret Hodgins said she was glad to see the funding agreement her predecessor Helen Prosser worked on for many years come to fruition.
"One of the benefits of this agreement is that my time is going to be focused on the operation of the library, programs, the collections and the fundraising we can now pass over to our foundation and our friends of the library," she said.
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