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ORL Board Meeting November 2020

by ORL News | Nov 18, 2020

At the November 18, 2020 meeting of the Okanagan Regional Library Board of Trustees, the Board:

  • approved the 2021 budget with a minimal less than 1% increase (0.75%), recognizing that taxpayers face many challenges with COVID-19
  • was presented with updates and changes to the COVID-19 influenced services model, which since late summer has moved to browse and borrow
  • heard that physical circulation of books in October had recovered to 81% of 2019 levels despite in-person programming cancelled by COVID-19
  • heard that circulation of virtual materials like e-books continues to increase significantly
  • said goodbye to the Board Chair Karla Kozakevich, who has served the maximum 8-year term allowed by legislation
  • announced that they had reached an agreement with CUPE, which both parties have now approved for a 3-year contract running to December 2023, and includes an inflationary increase of 2% per year.

In more detail:

Library Board approves the 2021 Budget.

The Board approved a lean budget for next year, with a less than 1% increase from 2020. During these challenging times, the Library is minimizing its financial impact with this below inflation budget change. The Library will defer major service changes and shift resources internally for 2021 to maintain service levels while still working on their new strategic plan and preparing for future service improvements. 

Financial Update.

The Library's 2020 finances remain in order. The Library expects to end the year in a financially secure position. Revenues are down due to waiving of fines, less patron activity, and high COVID-19 related costs. The Library had largely offset these losses by some wage savings from vacancies, not needing to utilize on-call staff, and some layoffs when library branches were forced to close in the spring due to COVID-19.

Additional Highlights

Wage Settlements:

The Board approved a new 3-year agreement with its CUPE staff, which has been ratified by CUPE running to December 2023, which includes a 2% increase each year. Negotiations with the Professional Employees Union are scheduled to begin in December.

Library Usage

Due to the changes necessary to keep branches safely opened due to COVID-19, in-person library visits are down. The Library has capped occupancy for the buildings, suspended most in-branch programs, removed most seating, and removed many public computers and other hands-on technology. Despite this, physical materials' circulation for October has recovered to over 80% of October 2019 levels, and online resource use and e-materials are significantly above 2019 levels.

Other

The Board said goodbye and gave thanks to Karla Kozakevich, our current Board Chair. Kozakevich served on the Board for the maximum allowed time under the eight-year legislation, chaired the Policy and Planning Committee for several years, and served as the Board Chair for the past two years. CEO Don Nettleton observed that "even though she was tremendously busy as a Regional Director and Chair of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, Karla helped steer the ORL through significant events including the election of many new Board members, the opening of new service points like UBCO and the Westside Learning Lab, and of course the latest challenges of a global pandemic. She will be missed by the Board and by staff. Karla will continue as Chair until the Board elects her successor at the next Board meeting in February.

About the ORL

Established in 1936, the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL) is the 16th largest library system in Canada, serving over 400,000 residents through 31 branches. It covers 59,600 square kilometres of some of the most beautiful territories in BC, stretching from Golden in the Rockies to Osoyoos in the heart of the Okanagan wine and fruit growing areas and Princeton in the Similkameen. The system is staffed by energetic and committed people who have begun the shift to a more learning and technology-focused service.

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