Libraries in Cowichan expand services after pandemic shutdown

Vancouver Island libraries are finding new ways to reach community members, online and in person.

Libraries in the Cowichan region are now offering new ways to access books, materials and services while keeping staff and the community safe. 

“A lot of people still don’t know that there’s anything to offer at the library,” says Annette Van Koevering, manager of the Cowichan and Cowichan Lake branches of the Vancouver Island Regional Library. “We keep getting phone calls, emails, going, ‘Are you guys opening? Are you guys doing anything? Is your book drop open?’ It’s like, yes, yes and yes!’

Branches are offering takeout service, limited walkthrough service, or a combination of the two. 

To access takeout service, place a hold using your online account and you will be notified when it is ready to pick up. Books can also be returned during takeout hours. 

Walkthrough service allows you to browse a limited selection of books, movies, kids materials and more, says Van Koevering. Be sure to bring your library card so you can use the self-checkout machines.

For now, the libraries are not charging late fees on overdue materials. But VIRL strongly encourages bringing materials back for others to enjoy.

Additionally, the library has expanded online offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic, Van Koevering says. There are e-books, audio books, music and movies available. There are many educational resources, including help to learn a language or new skill. Links to online services can be found on the VIRL homepage

Library groups are now taking place online, too, including story times, book clubs and more. Check the calendar to see what’s on. 

What’s available at my branch?

Right now the Cowichan branch, in Duncan, is open for walkthrough and takeout service. The South Cowichan branch, in Mill Bay, is open for walkthrough service. The Cowichan Lake, Ladysmith and Chemainus branches are open for takeout.

Van Koevering recommends checking your branch website or Facebook page for the latest information and hours. 

“There’s things happening and changing every single day.”

The library is looking to offer more as well. In the next couple of weeks, there should be some branches offering public computer access, Van Koevering says. 

Links to branch information

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