VICTORIA -- People were lined up to borrow books outside the Greater Victoria Public Library's Nellie McClung branch Friday as the doors opened for the first time in six months.

The GVPL was forced to close all 12 of the region’s neighbourhood branches in March due to COVID-19. Branches throughout the region began to reopen on June 30. Located in the University Heights area, the Nellie McClung branch is the eighth branch to reopen since the beginning of the pandemic.

“People told us loud and clear they want their physical materials,” said GVPL CEO Maureen Sawa. “They now have the convenience of going to a local branch and having access to all of the materials in our very large collection.”

Sawa says the Nellie McClung branch has more than 3,100 items currently on hold and ready for pickup.

Staff at the branch also set up a browsing section with new and popular materials in addition to an area for children’s books.

“This has been the restoration plan of our phase two of our service delivery to gradually get back to full services,” said Sawa. “Very stringent WorkSafeBC protocols are followed by our staff so patrons can feel quite comfortable when they come in.”

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to comply with physical distancing guidelines, the capacity of the Nellie McClung branch is limited to 16 people. To further limit transmission of the virus, all books are quarantined for 72 hours after being returned to the library.

“We are delighted to reopen the branch today and we are looking forward to seeing our customers come back again,” said Sawa. “Our staff have done an amazing job setting this up so it is very safe and accessible.”

All of the reopened GVPL branches offer limited in-person services and hours are also limited. Libraries are open Monday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to noon for those who self-identify as seniors or immuno-compromised. Branches are open to the general public between noon and 4 p.m.

The timetable for the reopening of the remaining branches is listed below:

  • Esquimalt Branch - 1231 Esquimalt Road - Friday, Sept.18
  • Langford Heritage Branch - 102-1314 Lakepoint Way - Friday, Sept. 25
  • Emily Carr Branch - 101-3521 Blanshard St -Friday, Oct. 2
  • Goudy Branch - 119-755 Goldstream Ave - Friday, Oct. 9