In 1995 the federal government began what is called a Community Access Program (CAP) which allows those living in rural communities free internet access through library points across Canada. For many communities, funding cuts could see the end of this program. Not so for Lake Cowichan, says Joy Adams Bauer, the Communications officer for the Vancouver Island Regional Library.
The funding was initially put into place to provide Canadians with affordable public Internet access and the skills to use it. Industry Canada states that “The mission of CAP is to assist Canadians in both rural and urban communities to take advantage of emerging opportunities presented by the global knowledge-based economy.”
The non-renewal of the program last month by Industry Canada means Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) won’t receive the $95,000 in annual funding which they are usually provided. However, Bauer says that VIRL has been planning for this eventuality. “We knew the funding would not be in place forever and we will be absorbing the cost.” The system’s 38 branches will continue to provide Internet access at current levels despite the funding loss.
The Cowichan Lake Vancouver Island Regional Library has two CAP computers which provide library members with the ability to surf the web, catch up on work, burn CDs, or just play games. Both computers are equipped with an office-like suite of applications, called OpenOffice.org, and the computers even have a large-print feature for those who are visually impaired.
Bauer assures that Lake Cowichan residents will not see any change to the library’s services and there will be no interruption to the internet.