Early plans for a new library for Willoughby will be discussed at Langley Township council next month.
Coun. Petrina Arnason, who is the Township representative to the Fraser Valley Regional Library Board, said senior staff are expected to make a presentation in February about a draft plan for a future library.
If a library is built in Willoughby, it will be the first in more than a decade, since the Muriel Arnason Library in Willowbrook opened its doors.
Willoughby is the largest neighbourhood in the Township by population, with an estimated 37,000 residents in 2019, according to Township records. It is currently the only large neighbourhood with no dedicated library.
In December, a developer suggested that a new building in the Yorkson area of Willoughby could provide a home for a library.
The Pollyco development in the 7900 block of 206A Street is near the existing Willoughby shopping centre close to 208th Street and 80th Avenue.
Pollyco’s development plan suggested that the second floor of the mixed commercial-residential development proposed for the site could become a 13,572 square foot library space.
Council moved the rezoning of the site forward, but didn’t immediately approve the idea of the location for a library, instead asking staff for more information.
Langley Township and City are both members of the Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL) system, which also includes Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Abbotsford, and Delta.
The 13 member municipalities share many of the expenses of the system, but individual municipalities have control over building new libraries.
When a new library branch is contemplated, the FVRL acts as a consultant, said FVRL CEO Scott Hargrove.
The library system can help the municipality understand what the neighbourhood around the planned site needs in terms of space, services, and books and other materials.
The FVRL can do everything from looking at local demographics to working with architects and developers.
“But of course, it’s a municipal project,” Hargrove said. “They build it.”
A new library has two-thirds of its collection purchased by the municipality, and one third by the FVRL.
New libraries also get an “anchored collection” for the first year and a half they are open, Hargrove noted.
Most books, DVDs, and other borrowable items can move from library to library. They can be requested and shipped across the region, or they can be borrowed at one location and dropped off at another, Hargrove said.
But to help establish a new branch, the collection is anchored, and books that belong to that library stay there for the first 18 months of operation, to ensure that local readers have a good source of materials on the shelves while they’re getting to know their new branch, said Hargrove.