BCLTA Governance Workbook: Public Libraries Branch, Province of British Columbia

The Public Libraries Branch is a government unit under the responsibility of the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Branch staff provide policy advice and guidance to government and public libraries on issues related the Library Act, provincial funding and provincial programs.

Guided by the Provincial Strategic Plan for Public Library Service, the Public Libraries Branch aims to build a future focused province-wide library system with programs, resources, and technology infrastructure that benefits people and communities through public libraries.

The Branch is responsible for:

  • Administering the Library Act (how public library services are delivered in BC)
  • Encouraging the extension and use of public library service through British Columbia
  • Supporting improvements in the public library system
  • Allocating provincial funding and managing related reporting
  • Providing leadership, guidance and policy advice on topics related to the public library services
  • Coordinating some province-wide programs such as interlibrary loan and BC OneCard

The Branch liaises with other ministries and other levels of government on library related issues and works with representatives from library associations and agencies within the province and throughout the country on emerging trends and issues in library service.

Provincial programs are made possible through collaboration and partnerships; some examples of well-used, provincially supported programs in your communities include interlibrary loan, the National Network for Equitable Library Service (accessible library materials for the print disabled) and the BC OneCard program.

Under the Act, boards and board members play an important oversight and strategic role in ensuring strong community-centred public services. The Branch recognizes the importance of this work, and partners with BCLTA to support training and development opportunities.

Branch staff are available to help boards, local government officials and library staff understand their governance and provincial reporting responsibilities (as they relate to the Library Act and other provincial government legislation).

The provincial website www.gov.bc.ca/publiclibraries provides access to more detailed information for library administrators and trustees.

An area of mutual interest of the province and library boards is in supporting public accountability and transparency as part of delivering a public service.  Annually, each public library provides detailed reports to the provincial government on the use of funding. These include data, annual reports and Statements of Financial Information

Trustees may be interested in reviewing reports to learn more about service trends and comparisons with other library systems. Each year a survey of public libraries is conducted, and the data is published in the BC Data Catalogue (2002-present).  https://catalogue.data.gov.bc.ca/dataset/bc-public-libraries-statistics-2002-present