Outgoing Librarian Diana Uhrich (left) and her replacement Wayne Briscoe at the Fort St. James Bicentennial Library.

Turning the page

Longtime Fort St. James librarian moves on and a new librarian learns the ropes

When Diana Uhrich began working for the Fort St. James Library, they were just phasing out the card catalogue.

Library users of the past can recall the drawers and drawers of small cards, one for each book in the library.

In Uhrich’s 15 and a half years, things have changed a lot, with computer automation making the sharing of books and information across B.C. libraries possible.

“Things are better,” said Uhrich. “The only thing that hasn’t changed is when the power goes out.”

While many cash businesses are forced to close when they lose power, the library can simply revert to pen and paper to record books going out, and then they enter them once power is restored.

But while she has been around for a lot of changes, and the new library building, Uhrich is moving on, she and her husband are moving into Prince George.

“Hopefully I’ll find something just as fulfilling in Prince George,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed this”

While it took quite awhile to find a replacement, Wayne Briscoe was eventually selected, and he appears to be a great fit.

“I’ve been wanting to be a librarian in a small town for a very very long time,” said Briscoe. “I just prefer smaller towns.”

When he was coming to the community for an interview, he said someone from the board checked to make certain he understood it is a small town at the end of the road, unsure he realized exactly what he was getting himself into.

Some of his colleagues in the Lower Mainland also were giving him a hard time about where he was headed.

But Briscoe is already appreciating some of the bonuses of small town life, and said he loves that he lives within walking distance of both where he works and where he buys his groceries.

Briscoe was living in Richmond, B.C. before this, where he was working for three and a half years, before that he was in Squamish for eight years.

Briscoe has a Masters Degree in Library Science and over 20 years of library experience, both in the public and academic library systems.

He chose working with the public through the public system, performing what he sees as “a vital service for every community.”

Briscoe started at the library at the beginning of June, shadowing Uhrich, and took over the helm on July 3.

While he said he’s still asking a lot of questions, it works out because Uhrich has stayed on as a consultant as he learns the “nitty-gritty” of the day to day operations of the library.

Briscoe said “every library is unique” but even with the high level of activity in the local library, he hasn’t had any big surprises yet.

While nothing will be changing in any big way immediately, Briscoe said the library board is going to be doing some strategic planning in the near future and they are looking at how the facility might implement wireless internet.

Some different language services are being looked at, as well as more services for seniors, but children programs will continue.

“It’s a question of finding out what is needed and how to structure services,” explained Briscoe. “Whatever people may think about public libraries, children and family programs are the cornerstone.”

Fort St. James Bicentennial Library

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