Gabriolans filled their newly renovated library at Folklife Village Oct. 20 to celebrate its expansion and official reopening.
Library Manager Abbas Saffari emceed the proceedings which included welcoming remarks from board Chair Ronna-Rae Leonard, a draw for a number of donated books, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and ended with cake for all.
Saffari thanked Gabriola and Nanaimo Harbourfront staff “who worked tirelessly to put all the materials on the shelf and to complete the many tasks that we have to complete when we open a new library”.
Leonard, who has been a member of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) Board of Trustees for seven years, said she had been hearing about the need for a bigger library on Gabriola for that entire time.
After first acknowledging that the library sits on the traditional lands of the Snuneymuxw Fist Nation, Leonard also noted the presence of a number of elected officials including: VIRL board Vice-chair and trustee from the Strathcona Regional District, Brenda Leigh; Ron Kerr, VIRL trustee for Campbell river; Area B (Gabriola, Mudge and De Courcy islands) Regional Director Howard Houle; and Islands Trustees Sheila Malcolmson and Gisele Rudischer.
Leonard also introduced VIRL Executive Director Rosemary Bonanno, Director of Library Services Fiona Anderson, and other staff members Laura Beswick, Lara Wright, Jennifer Windecker, Lee Lively, and Joy Adams-Bauer.
She also thanked “the many wonderful professionals who have worked so hard to create this wonderful space. It’s quite breathtaking when you step in here for the first time.” In particular she thanked mall owner Steve Wohlleben, and interior designers Jing Fel Wang and Harry Olsen.
She also acknowledged the Gabriola Friends of the Library Isabel Caron, Rebecca Davey, Patricia Murray, Theresa Stone, Wendy Strachan, and Susan Yates “for all their support over the years”, and noted that they had donated a flat screen TV, folding chairs, and a chair with castors to the library.
“I’m especially reminded on occasions like this,” Leonard said, “that libraries remain the living room for our communities, and this is the sentiment that is illustrated in this branch every day that this library is open. ‘Strong libraries, strong communities’. It’s on the wall, it’s our motto, and I think we can understand why.”
After Leonard gave out a number of door prizes, she asked the youngest and the oldest members of the audience to help with the ribbon cutting ceremony, after which cake was cut and served.