In March of 2019, the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) Community Technology Program Grant recipients were announced. Among them was Revelstoke’s own Okanagan Regional Library (ORL). It obtained a whopping $127,054 grant.
But what exactly does it mean? With the much discussed Fabrication Lab (FL) in the works and the Okanagan College Mobile Tech Lab receiving $15,000 from the Revelstoke Credit Union Community Giving Program Capital Projects, where does the ORL technological program fit?
The grant heralds the commitment of the ORL to create of a unique space at the Revelstoke branch, akin to the learning lab in West Bank Kelowna. It will involve a massive renovation of the library, whether that means going out towards the parking lot or up a second story is still undetermined. And it means that decision will be made in the next six months.
For Librarian Lucie Bergeron, it’s an exciting time.
“Our meeting room is so busy, we need to create new space for the learning lab and makerspace,” she explains.
Bergeron notes all renovation ideas are still under discussion. She hopes though, that an addition will provide space for a children’s area, business centre, tech lab reading rooms and quiet area.
“A renovation is also a chance to address the issue of how busy the library gets,” she explains. “I’m not kidding, we have people standing with their laptops on the counters or sitting on the floor to work, we are so busy.”
Work BC has reduced their hours and Bergeron has seen it correlate to an increase in those using the library to work or study. The ORL also invigilates exams free of charge, and is the only place in town to do so.
When it comes to the tech details, while the ORL Public Tech Space, the FL and Mobile Tech Centre’s ideals could possible dovetail in the future, as they share similar goals and ideas, they are quite different.
The FL, a collaborative project partnering City of Revelstoke’s Community Economic Development, Community Futures and Start Up Revelstoke, is geared towards supporting businesses and entrepreneurs using machines for fabrication; like utilizing 3D printers.
The ORL is based on a model of educations and social development.
“The upper level of the ORL has been working on the CBT grant for at least six months,” she says. “The top of the ORL has people with a vision who are making it happen and are so supportive.”
A public technology space and the ORL, Bergeron enthuses, are actually perfect fit.
“The ORL has been at the forefront of bringing digital and tech education to people for free,” she explains. “So Revelstoke gaining a public technology space ties in well with their strategic plan. They have a lot of experience in this kind of development.”
“There will be a laptop cart and we will be teaching people how to use laptops. We have the potential to get everyone their own laptop and have hands on learning,” Bergeron says.
“The laptops will be for all demographics from seniors to teens and young adults,” she says. “There is a lot of great software out there we can utilize, like Krita, which is used for manga illustrations. There are animation programs and digital painting programs.These are the kind of education opportunities we are looking at.”
Multiple laptops will also allow Bergeron to grow her current STEAM collection. “Most of those STEAM items can be programed with a computer, allowing those learning about them to take it to the next level,” she says. “We’ve been utilizing STEAM for a year now, and we will be able to take it up a notch.”
Other items that will be included include a multimedia recording studio with supporting software, including the entire adobe media suite.
“It will be great for podcasting, musicians, and allowing small businesses to create quality media content,” Bergeron says.
There will also be digitization equipment for all media. “Those wanting to preserve their family history and digitize old photographs or VHS’ will be able to,” she says.
Finally, a virtual reality headset will be available.
What is the most amazing though, Bergeron says, is that like all libraries, using the services and goods within will be free of charge.
Bergeron and the ORL’s next step is a heavy push in raising funds. Grants will be applied for, crowdsourcing may take place, and there will likely be a large fundraising effort.
The huge changes coming to the Revelstoke ORL over the next couple of years are a boon to our community. Bergeron agrees.
“I’m so grateful to be associated with the ORL,” she says, “The changes to our branch were initiated by upper management before I was the community libraria. They are amazing and giving so much to our community. We are so lucky.”
With a massive project about to be undertaken, Bergeron is confident in the ORL’s ability to ensure it is successful.
“Their management team is going to be crucial in making this work,” she says. “They will. They’ve done it before.”