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Burnaby Public Library extends Sunday opening hours

The additional hours are possible thanks to a $690K grant from the province

Starting May 26, all Burnaby Public Library locations will be open for three additional hours every Sunday. The new Sunday opening hours will be from 10am to 6pm, instead of 12pm to 5pm. 

“We’ve had a lot of feedback from Burnaby residents that they’d like longer opening hours, particularly on Sundays,” chief librarian Beth Davies told the Beacon. 

The library recently received one-time funding from the province to increase staffing levels and hours on Sundays. 

The city provides most of the library’s funding, but the library also receives an additional $500K per year from the province. 

Burnaby Public Library, Bob Prittie Metrotown. Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

“That money has not increased for a really long time. Public libraries in BC have been advocating to the province to increase that level of funding,” adding that the funding has not increased since 2010. 

Last year, the province announced that it would not increase the regular funding but that it would provide one-time Library Enhancement Grants. Burnaby Public Library has received $690K in provincial grant money, which will be spent over three or four years. The grant funds will go towards extending library hours on Sundays at all four locations. Once the $690K grant runs out, Davies said the library hopes the city will provide the additional funding to cover the extended weekend opening hours. 

“It’s great to have that money,” Davies said. She added that the one-time nature of the grant is where she has concerns. “There’s just the concern that once it runs out, either we have to go back and have reduced Sunday hours, or we then have to go to the city to ask for money to continue that.” 

Davies said there is funding in the city’s five-year financial plan to help the library continue its extended hours once the provincial funding runs out; however, the financial plan may change. She added that keeping the library open for extended hours on Sundays will cost around $250K per year. 

“The vast majority of our costs as a library are for the humans that make the library work. We can’t run the library without humans,” Davies said. “When we shift from having a five-hour opening to an eight-hour opening, what it means practically is that staff have lunch breaks, and we need to cover that.” 

Late last year, the Metrotown branch added a new digital studio where library users can record podcasts, music, and videos, digitize videos, and use high-end software to edit music, photos, and videos. The studio is available free of charge to anyone with a Burnaby Public Library card. Davies added that the extended opening hours will mean families and community groups can access the library more over the summer and rent out the available community rooms. Davies said there are plans for similar digital studios at other locations. 

Entrance of the temporary Cameron library inside Lougheed Mall. Photo: Burnaby Public Library

On April 29, the Cameron Library in the Lougheed area was relocated to a temporary location in Lougheed Mall while the new library and recreation centre are being built. Davies said she is very excited about the new library and the unexpected popularity of the temporary location in the mall.

“It’s so busy. It’s interesting to see how many new people are finding us in the mall,” Davies said. “We’re welcoming back people who used the library when it was in Cameron Park, but we’re also seeing a whole bunch of new people who haven’t used the library before.” 

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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