Community Forum Series Comes to a Close

On November 2nd we held our final Virtual Community Forum, the last in a series we began nearly a year ago —and what a year it’s been! We’ve learned so much and are tremendously grateful to all those who participated, shared their time and insights so generously, and to our co-organizers PovNet and Legal Aid BC. It’s been such a pleasure working with them to create an opportunity to bring folks together and meet so many people doing impactful work all over the province. A HUGE thank you to everyone!  

Back in June, we shared an update about our work on this project, and today, we wanted to give you a basic sense of the reach and scope of this work and update you on what to expect next. 

Quick Stats 

  • In 13 sessions we met with library staff, advocates, and community workers from the Sunshine Coast, North and South Vancouver Island, East and West Kootenays, Okanagan, Central Interior, North Central, North East, North West, Lower Mainland, and Fraser Valley regions, as well as those that provide province-wide services. 

  • All told, nearly 400 people attended. 

  • Libraries were extremely well represented! We met with staff from the following public library systems:                                     

    • Vancouver Island Regional  
    • Southern Gulf Islands    
    • Powell River    
    • Greater Victoria Regional    
    • Okanagan Regional    
    • Cariboo Regional 
    • Nakusp    
    • Castlegar    
    • Elkford    
    • Radium Hot springs    
    • Rossland   
    • Nelson   
    • Salmo   
    • Penticton   
    • Ft St. John   
    • Prince George   
    • Chetwynd   
    • Dawson Creek   
    • Taylor   
    • Granisle   
    • New Westminster   
    • Coquitlam   
    • North Van City   
    • Fraser Valley Regional 
    • Fort Nelson   
    • Surrey   
    • Vancouver   
    • Burnaby   
    • North Van District   
    • Richmond 

Additionally, we were joined by directors of the Kootenay Library Federation, Islandlink Library Federation, Public Library InterLINK, and Libraries Branch BC and many of our Courthouse Libraries BC colleagues working in CLBC branches around the province. Thank you all so much. 

Key Findings

The findings we summarized in June remained consistent throughout the remaining sessions. To recap: 

  1. Relationships are key to providing effective referrals.

  1. While some issues are locale-specific, there are several common barriers and problems affecting BC residents regardless of region.  

  1. Advocates, community agencies, and libraries are working really hard to support BC residents navigate complex and difficult situations, and are invested in finding ways to share resources, time, and support to help our clients, our patrons, and each other. 

Next Steps 

Now we begin the work of making sense of all the information we’ve gleaned throughout the series: what’s working and what isn’t, the challenges we’re facing, what of these challenges we as libraries and community workers are well-positioned to have a positive impact on, and how we – the organizers - might best support everyone in continuing these conversations in local or regional settings.  

Stay tuned for more next year once we’ve had the time to consolidate, analyze and interpret all of our findings. We will share key takeaways via a report, and PovNet will be working on a training series and a toolkit for anyone interested in continuing to run these forums in your area.  

Thanks again to all who contributed to this series being as successful as it was! We look forward to sharing all we’ve learned next year.