Libraries are a go-to destination for books, but computers at Chilliwack-area branches are also available for visitors who need internet access and printing get a vaccine passport. (COURTESY PHOTO, King County Library System)

Chapter closes on Oyama library

Resources to be reallocated to District of Lake Country branch; services to continue locally

The little library that served the Oyama community is set to close, but Okanagan Regional Library will continue serving the community from its main Lake Country branch and through local programming.

Meanwhile, some residents like Alison Beaumont turned to social media to put a call out to neighbours in hopes to save the library.

Beaumont said she intends on making a video “capturing why our library is #morethanbooks.”

“If you have something you’d like to share about why Oyama Library means something to you and your community, meet outside the library on (Sept.) 28 at 6 p.m.,” she urged neighbours.

The decision to close the branch was made after learning the building was put up for sale by the Oyama Community Association.

Terms allow for the library to stay until the end of October and once new owners take possession, a new agreement would have to be made.

Okanagan Regional Library marketing and communications director Michal Utko said the turnaround time for a decision was very limited and left no room for community consultation.

The potential sale triggered an internal review of the library’s effectiveness of services provided and the associated costs.

Following a good look, staff recommended and the board agreed resources would better serve the entire District of Lake Country if they were relocated to the main branch.

While this means the Oyama branch will close after its decades of service, it also means resources will be redirected to extend the hours of operation at the main branch by eight hours a week, which may include four hours on Sunday afternoons.

“This branch is in the main service centre of the community, about a 10-minute drive from Oyama,” the Sept. 22 decision reads. “It is adjacent to the middle and high school sand the other services Oyama and all Lake Country citizens access, such as grocery stores, health and beauty, dining, entertainment and other shopping.”

Meanwhile, local programs including children’s storytimes and Summer Reading Club will be maintained as staff from the Lake Country branch will travel to Oyama to offer them in a different location, such as the Oyama Community Hall.

Other local services, such as a book-return bin and wifi service — a popular amenity with Okanagan Rail Trail users and some locals – could also be continued in partnership with the community association or a similar community partner or landowner.

“The Library Board and management empathize with the community and appreciate that changes to local services are difficult, particularly for small communities,” the decision reads.

“It was a difficult decision to make,” Utko said. “But in the long run, it will benefit more people.”

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