A new library has broke ground in Vancouver and will serve the poorest postal code in Canada. The Downtown Eastside is rife with poverty, drug use, sex, crime, and violence.
The building that will be constructed will have six different floors, two for the library and four for social housing called Cause We Care House, designated for single mothers. It is being financed by a joint initiative between the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Public Library and YWCA Metro Vancouver.
“We’ll have medical and employment services, a mother and tot program, and we’ll offer support to families with infants who have been diagnosed with developmental delays,” YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO Janet Austin said at a news conference at the site.
The naming convention being employed for the upcoming library is entirely unique and is the first major civic building in Vancouver to have an official aboriginal name. The word nə́c̓aʔmat ct encompasses the idea of “we are one” in the Musqueam language.
The Downtown Eastside, Chinatown and Strathcona community are the last neighborhoods in Vancouver without a public library. Sandra Singh, the city’s chief librarian, said the library, which will measure about 11,000 square feet, will be among the largest branches in the VPL system. Incidentally this will also be the first official library to be constructed in Vancouver in the last 20 years.
This library is going to have thousands of book and e-book titles available to patrons. Beth Davies Neighbourhood Services Manager at VPL said that “Our selections team is just starting to acquire books and other materials for the new branch, having developed a collection profile based on neighborhood demographics and feedback, and circulation patterns in other similar locations. The collection will be newly acquired for this branch; the children’s material at our current Strathcona branch will remain with the school when the library becomes a school-only library. We are not relying on community donations.”
She went on to say “E-book and digital collections will be available to patrons at this location, just as at other locations, and are intended to complement the print collections.”
Currently, the VPL deals with Overdrive which accounts for the largest segment of audiobooks and e-Books. Digital Newspapers will also play a key role via PressReader. I have a feeling that the digital adoption rate will be low at this new location, as the low-income patrons likely don’t have cutting edge smartphones or tablets.