Visting Greater Victoria public libraries

The annual Canadian Library Association Conference often offers tours of the libraries in the host city. I participated in a tour of two public library branches: the Emily Carr Branch and the Saanich Centennial Branch.

The Emily Carr Branch recently moved to this location in the vast new Uptown Shopping Centre. Scotiabank occupies most of the first floor, with the library on the second floor, except for the book drop and sorter:WP_20140528_09_21_38_Pro

On the first floor, as people head for the elevator or stairs they can drop off their books. The library page working here is always visible through the glass windows:WP_20140528_09_23_43_Pro

The library doesn’t use RFID– instead the library customers are asked to scan in the barcode before dropping the item in the book drop and conveyor. While this misses some books, which are directed to the bin at the end, the successful check-in rate is high, although not as high as with RFID chips.WP_20140528_09_25_18_Pro


Fastreads and new books are prominently displayed in this airy and bright branch. The branch manager discussed the low shelving.WP_20140528_10_06_30_Pro

The OPAC on the wall is height-adjustable, as is the desk in the foreground:WP_20140528_09_50_08_Pro

The furniture is modular and mobile, with most things on wheels, including the comfy chairs.WP_20140528_09_52_07_Pro

Library customers have the choice of self-checkout with e-mailed receipt or printed receipt.WP_20140528_09_53_22_Pro

Library customers can read outside in the Reading Garden. This space is also used for programming.WP_20140528_10_01_56_Pro

Meeting room that can be booked by the public:WP_20140528_10_03_24_Pro

The second library visited was the Saanich Centennial Branch which is in a recreation centre. This is a larger community library, with a larger collection.WP_20140528_10_23_21_Pro

This was the first branch in the system with self-checkout.WP_20140528_10_25_38_Pro

To pay for printing, library customers use their library cards which can be prepaid with a credited amount. All new library cards are credited $2 for printing to get customers started.WP_20140528_10_28_26_Pro

The Teen Zone and Kids’ Place:WP_20140528_10_30_50_Pro

A computer lab:WP_20140528_10_35_31_Pro

A popular program for guys and their kids:WP_20140528_10_38_50_Pro

This branch is also home to the Saanich Archives, which was moved here from its poor location in a municipal building.WP_20140528_10_42_00_Pro

The archives staff are separate from the library staff, but the archives uses the library’s services for outreach and public education. Archives inside of libraries benefit from the library’s outreach skills.WP_20140528_10_51_09_Pro

As there is no municipal museum, the archives also houses several artefacts alongside a local history reference collection.WP_20140528_10_51_41_Pro

Popular with school children is this History Detective kit, where students learn about researching local history and archival material:WP_20140528_10_53_20_Pro

An archives houses original records (letters, photographs, and other primary source records). To preserve them the Saanich Archives uses this vault behind the public area. The fire suppression system sucks the oxygen out of the air and uses chemicals to eliminate flames:WP_20140528_11_10_10_Pro

The Saanich Archives, housed in the vault in the Saanich Centennial Library:WP_20140528_11_10_35_Pro

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