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 British Columbians.

Here's a snapshot of the public library system:

  • 247 service points
  • 10.4 Million items available in physical format
  • 5.3 Million items available in digital format
  • Nearly 61.6 million visits to libraries and their websites in 2016
  • Total circulation of 59 million items in 2016
  • 1.7 million B.C. residents attended a library program in 2016
  • Over 73,573 library programs available
  • Over 90,000 children registered in the 2016 Summer Reading Club Program
  • 3,589 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.