Public Libraries

Reading a good book, doing homework, researching a paper or surfing the web are all good reasons to visit the library.

Programs and Services

Here are just a few things you can do at a public library:

  • Access free Internet or Wi-Fi
  • Look-up resources in either digital or print collections
  • Get expert assistance from librarians who are professionally trained to help you find what you’re looking for
  • Find programs and support for: 
    • Life-long learning – everything from early learning to technology programs for seniors
    • Finding a job or career development
    • Newcomers getting settled in the province
  • Engage with others on topics of interest
  • Join reading clubs and share your love of reading
  • Find local information and resources about the community
  • Use BC OneCard and Interlibrary Loan to get resources outside of your community

Other programs and services include:

  • BC OneCard: B.C. public library cardholders can borrow materials at any other public library in the province
  • Resource Sharing/Interlibrary Loan: Request and borrow materials from other libraries or institutions
  • National Network for Equitable Library Service: Access to library materials for individuals with print or visual impairments
  • BC Summer Reading Club: A lifelong love of reading is fostered through special summer reading programs

Library Fast Facts

B.C.’s first public library opened in 1891 – since then, they’ve served as community hubs providing access to information, programs and services for B.C. residents.

Here's a snapshot of the public library system:

  • 247 service points
  • Over 16 million items available
  • Nearly 60 million visits to libraries and their websites each year
  • Over 59 million items borrowed each year
  • 1.3 million B.C. residents attended a library program in 2014
  • 3,400 computers for public use in B.C. libraries

Library data: Find out more about your public library:

Governance: Public libraries are governed by the Library Act – the purpose of this legislation is to:

  • Provides for the establishment and operation of municipal libraries, regional library districts and library federations
  • Encourage the extension and use of public library service throughout B.C.
  • Enables the delivery of public library service in the province
  • Supports improvements in public library service
  • Describes how local library boards and library directors are appointed

Learn more about public libraries and the Libraries Branch

Types of libraries: In B.C., there are 71 public libraries. There are four types of public libraries: municipal libraries, regional library districts, public library associations and integrated public library systems. Each library has a board that is responsible for policy development, strategic direction, governance, hiring and finance.

There are also 6 Library Federations – a group of library boards within the same jurisdiction that share similar goals and have an agreement to work together. 



Library Cards Are Going Places

Useful Contacts

Contact your library for information about specific library policies.

Contact the Libraries Branch for information about legislation or provincial funding.

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