Now that Mayor and Council are on the point of finalizing the budget for this year, I would like to take the opportunity, on behalf of the TR Public Library Board of Trustees and the Library Staff, to thank Town Council for the increase in the Library?s 2006 budget. It speaks well of a renewed commitment to the town.

The most obvious effect that Library patrons will see of the new budget will be an increase in the hours of operation. The Library will now open on Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm, it will stay open until 8 pm more days of the week than it did previously, and it will no longer close over the lunch hour. Well, I?m fibbing a bit here. Labour laws mandate that employees themselves must be allowed to take lunch breaks, and after mixing in the extended hours of work with the available employees and the hours that they work each week, it just sort of works out that the Library will have to close at lunchtime on Saturdays. However, following Council?s iniative requesting the Community Centre to open on statutory holidays, the Library will follow suit and will open on those days as well, the exceptions being Christmas Day and Good Friday. Statutory holiday hours at the Library will be ?Sunday hours?, from 1 pm to 5 pm. The downside to all of this is that the Library will now close on Mondays, as do most of the other libraries in the Peace Region. The exception to this rule, of course, is that if a statutory holiday falls on a Monday, the TR Library will open. The new hours aren?t carved in stone and as time goes by they may be ?tweaked? to better reflect public usage of the Library or more efficient use of the staff. The new Library hours were posted in the TR News on March 29, and already they?ve been tweaked. Saturday hours are 10 am to 5 pm (and closed for lunch), not 1 to 5 pm as we initially posted.

Some of the internal changes to the Library as a result of the budget increase will be the changing of some staff positions from part-time to full-time; the creation of a new position of clerk (Oops! I?m sorry! I mean Administrative Assistant, not clerk. What was I thinking?); a major upgrade of the computer system; and some new chairs. New chairs! At last! 30 new chairs have been ordered and have already started arriving. You really should go down to the Library and check them out. They don?t look like much ? squarish black things, some with arms, some without. But sit in one and you?ll be surprised at how comfortable it is. Now, I?m one of these people who equate sitting upright with being uncomfortable. I?ve been a ?lounger? or ?sloucher? all my life, much to the dismay of my mother and various schoolteachers, who would admonish me about the danger of developing bad posture because I would only sit upright when I was forced to. These new chairs make you sit upright, but they are comfortable at the same time. I never thought that was possible! They are excellent! (Well, in comparison, that is, to those dreadful folding contraptions that have been in the Community Centre for years). But I?m starting to ramble again?

Another upgrade that is planned is the ?presentation area? in the Library. That?s the corner where ?Itchy Feet? and other functions are held. A new projector will be purchased and will be installed so that it hangs from the ceiling. The present set-up has a projector sitting on a bookstand in the middle of the lecture area, which effectively blocks the view of the screen for many people. The Library?s presentation area is one of the town?s gems and we have been approached on a few occasions by some of the energy resource companies asking if they could use the Library after hours for training seminars and the like. None of the meeting rooms in the Community Centre have access to the Internet, which the Library does. The renting of the Library by resource companies could be a real asset, for instead of charging them rent we generally ask for a donation. Their donations tend to be quite generous ? more than we would usually have asked as rent in the first place. Unfortunately, the last couple of times this was planned, the companies cancelled because they couldn?t find hotel accommodation in Tumbler Ridge and ended up having their seminars in Dawson Creek instead. Ah, there?s the rub! – the lack of hotel rooms in town. That?s the big stumbling block in Tumbler Ridge?s progress, and Council?s next big headache. Anyone happen to have Conrad Hilton?s phone number?

Bob Norman, Chair TR Library Board of Trustees