The Vancouver Island Regional Library’s new Chemainus branch opened its doors Monday morning to a chilly reception.
That had nothing to do with the facility, of course, but characterized the snowy and cold conditions outside. The new downtown Chemainus landmark was warmly received by people who have long been anxious to get inside for a look and many braved some of the wintery weather to get there early.
The Russell family’s five kids – Kasian, Kaia, Kalyna, Kazka and little Kealey – with mom Olena, and Chemainus Fire Department’s Zoe Nedelec with her children Winter, 12, and Lucia, 10, were the first through the doors.
“This was planned before it snowed,” said Olena about being among the first to set foot in the new library at 10 a.m. All the Russell kids of school age and Nedelec siblings are home-schooled so they will be making the most of the library’s resources.
“It’s beautiful,” said Zoe Nedelec of the building’s West Coast design and many amenities. “It’s much more than I’d expect from a public library.”
While the library’s previous location tucked beside the government liquor store on Legion Street had served the community well for many years, the more expansive location of the library at 9796 Willow St. will surely be more widely-utilized.
“I always thought a library should be more of a community space,” Nedelec added.
That will be accomplished with more public computers, a vibrant children’s area, lounging area with fireplace, laptop bar, study space, a bookable multipurpose room and a larger collection with many new materials, with increased staffing to assist people.
“This is fabulous,” enthused Olena Russell. “The space is really nice. There’s a lot of space for the community to interact. We will be here all the time. It’s a great resource for what we do and just a bigger space to be in as well.”
“I think it’s the most fantastic thing this town can get,” said John Silins. “Beautiful displays and the design is incredible.
“My wife is the best customer the library has. She’s got books on the reserve list all the time.”
“This is absolutely great,” enthused Anne Silins. “It’s beautiful.”
“I’m so excited about the snow and the library,” said Carol Hollett. “It’s such a welcoming space. I love it.”
Martha Martinez, who works as a library assistant, was busy helping customers and feeling a bit sentimental about the move from the other location.
“I will miss it,” she conceded. “This is nice and good to see a lot of people so excited and happy.”
A steady stream of people made their way into the library throughout the day.
The official grand opening of the library will be on Saturday, March 7 at 1 p.m., presumably without the snow by that time.