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PODCAST: Turning the page on what a Vancouver Island library should be

Off The Page: ‘We have such a focus on what our community needs’
On this edition of Off The Page, we talk with Comox Valley librarians Allison Trumble and Kris Ward, along with David Carson, spokesperson for VIRL. Black Press file photo

From books and magazines to seed libraries and thermal cameras, Vancouver Island Regional Library is taking a deep dive into what it offers for current and future users within Island communities.

VIRL is currently hosting engagement sessions with the public as part of its strategic plan for the next five years and is hoping to find out what people imagine when they think of their dream library.

On this edition of Off The Page podcast, we talk with Comox Valley librarians Allison Trumble and Kris Ward, along with David Carson, spokesperson for VIRL.

Below is an excerpt from the Record’s weekly Off The Page podcast, which can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or everywhere podcasts are heard.

Q: How have the roles of libraries really changed over the past decade?

Trumble: I think a lot of people have this sort of stereotype of the very traditional librarian with the cardigan and a bun and who’s like shushing everyone very strictly and you’re not allowed to speak in the library, and there’s tall shelves of books and they have the librarian holds all the secret knowledge of how to find everything.

Over the past couple of decades, libraries have really been shifting away from that role as the gatekeepers of the knowledge and the information and the space, and opening it up to the community and really shifting what we do with that space.

Q: What are some of the shifts that libraries have taken on in their collections?

Carson: When we promote in our communities, there’s a great range of things that are available, whether that’s eBooks and audiobooks to streaming content to the amazing programming that’s happening in all our branches and virtually across the system.

People are just absolutely shocked and amazed at the breadth and the scope of what they’re seeing.

And so I always look at my job and the job of my team is moving libraries from the best-kept secret in town to the most well-used resource in town because we absolutely have something for you that’s relevant and engaging.

Q: What are you hoping to get from the public feedback in terms of the future of libraries?

Ward: I’m hoping that people feel empowered to share what they want to see and to know that it’s not our library, it’s their library, and to feel invested in what’s going on here. And I’m really looking forward to hearing what the community needs are.

That’s really central to the work that I do as a librarian and central to the work that we do here - we have such a focus on what our community needs, and so this is just a really good opportunity for us to hear that.

We just want the community to know that we’re listening.

And I want them to feel empowered to let us know what they want to see.

For the rest of the interview and past episodes of Off The Page including all of Season 1, visit

Erin Haluschak

About the Author: Erin Haluschak

Erin Haluschak is a journalist with the Comox Valley Record since 2008. She is also the editor of Trio Magazine...
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