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The Library Services branch is the successor to the Library Development Commission, and was established in 1978 in accordance with the Public Libraries (Amendment) Act (SBC 1978, c. 35). The mandate of the branch is to “foster the vision of efficient, effective and connected library programs and services” by “overseeing the legislative and governance framework for public libraries, serving as a liaison between libraries and provincial or federal governments and offering funding, advice, and leadership to libraries and province-wide library programs and initiatives.”
Although the Library Services branch initially operated several field offices, a 1987 report recommended the closure of several of these offices. Dawson Creek was the first office to be closed following a merger with the Prince George office, which was itself closed in 1995. The 1987 report also recommended that several programs be phased out, including the Open Shelf books-by-mail program which eventually ceased all service in 1995 after 73 years.
The Branch has changed ministries on several occasions. Between 1990 and 2001, it was located within the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Housing, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. In 2001, the Branch was moved to the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal, and Women’s Services where it remained until a 2006 move to the Ministry of Education.
The branch has changed names several times, and has been known as the Library Services branch and the Public Library Services branch. As of June 2016, the body is known as the Libraries branch and is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education.
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The Library Development Commission was established in accordance with the Public Libraries (Amendment) Act (SBC 1968, c.44). The Commission was the successor to the Public Library Commission, which was established in accordance with the Public Libraries Act (SBC 1919, c. 48). The functions of both the Library Development Commission and its predecessor were to operate a system of traveling libraries and to cooperate with public library associations, public library boards, and librarians on the organization, maintenance, and administration of public libraries.
The LDC was comprised of five individuals appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Each appointee served an unpaid term of three years, and the Commission’s duties remained largely the same as those of the Public Library Commission. The LDC provided grants to libraries, and by the end of the 1969-1970 fiscal year, the Commission had received $500,000 in legislative appropriations, which it distributed as grants to libraries and library associations.
In an effort to expand library service across the province, the LDC operated a variety of book mailing and bookmobile programs. By 1968, the Open Shelf book mailing program boasted a circulation of 115,000 volumes, which were delivered by parcel post to individuals for periods of six weeks.
In 1973, the Commission elected Roy Culos of Burnaby as chairman, a position in which he served until the Commission was disbanded in 1978. Under his leadership, 10 public library systems were integrated, and the Greater Vancouver Regional District became a federated system. The first integrated system was launched in January 1974, and was originally known as the Thompson Nicola Regional District. The system served communities from Merritt north to Clearwater, and from Clinton east to Chase. In 1975 the system changed its name to the Cariboo-Thompson-Nicola library system when libraries in the Cariboo district joined. The LDC provided financial assistance and helped to set operating standards for the newly integrated system. 1975 saw the launch of the Greater Vancouver Library Federation, which was to include 25 branches. This amalgamation was the first of its kind in Canada, and member branches continued to have control over their own expenditures, policies, and operations.
By 1978, the provincial government cancelled grants that had previously been provided to libraries wanting to join a regional or integrated service system, with the mandate that such initiatives would come at the library’s own expense. When the LDC protested, Recreation and Conservation minister Sam Bawlf disbanded the Commission. Under the Public Libraries Amendment Act (SBC 1978, c. 35) the LDC was replaced by a Library Advisory Council. This body was to be comprised of appointees who were to advise the Minister on matters affecting public library service and the application of the Public Libraries Act. Final decisions were to be placed with the newly-created Library Services branch.
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- British Columbia Library Association (Subject)
- British Columbia. Legislative Library (Subject)
- Hosie, John, 1880-1934 (Subject)
- Lamb, William Kaye, 1904-1999 (Subject)
- Lidster, Hugh Norman, 1888-1967 (Subject)
- Morison, Charles Keith, 1891-1977 (Subject)
- Stewart, Helen Gordon, 1879-1971 (Subject)
- British Columbia. Library Development Commission (Subject)
- British Columbia. Library Services Branch (Subject)