BCLA Perspectives

Social Issues and the Special Library

An interview with Suzanne McBeath, Corporate Librarian, about how social issues impact the work of the Metro Vancouver Library.

Tell us a bit about the Metro Vancouver Library

The Metro Vancouver Library supports the work of Metro Vancouver by coordinating and providing access to key information sources, including our own internally-produced reports and historical materials that trace the development of Metro Vancouver. The library serves Metro Vancouver staff, consultants, member municipal staff, and the public.

Generally, our collection supports the business needs of Metro Vancouver employees: functions include more technical responsibilities, such as provision of water and waste services, as well as public education and outreach, through services such as parks interpretive programs, and our collection reflects this variety.

What social issues are impacting the Metro Vancouver Library?

Regional Planning/Population Growth – Metro Vancouver undertakes regional land use planning which strives to contain and structure the growth coming to our region, protect important lands, and ensure the efficient provision of infrastructure (i.e. utilities and transit).

Climate Change – Metro Vancouver develops and implements plans, policies, regulations and projects that improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Homelessness/Affordable Housing – Metro Vancouver owns and operates 49 housing sites that provide market and subsidized rental housing for close to 10,000 in the Lower Mainland.  We are also responsible for conducting the tri-annual Metro Vancouver Homeless Count. These issues have been the most prevalent lately.

How do these issues impact the library?

There are requests for research on these topics from both internal and external library users, by phone and by email.  The requests vary for both user groups: sometimes they are very specific—such as requesting a particular report—and sometimes they are broader–such as inquiring into the history of a particular structure.

How does the library address social issues?

We purchase items for the collection related to these topics and feature them in book displays.  We also promote our resources through internal communication – both email and postings on our intranet.  The library also creates weekly news alerts on these issues which are emailed to interested employees.

What are some of the popular resources in your collection related to social issues?