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Your Library Stories: How this Vancouver start-up got its start at the library

How this Vancouver start-up got its start at the library

Small company. Big office. Really big, in fact – as in Vancouver’s central library. Entrepreneur and history buff Will Woods proudly remembers VPL’s main location downtown as his office-away-from-the-office: the place where it all started.

His Forbidden Vancouver tour company is built on the work he did at VPL, where he delved into the dark and saucy history of the city – opium! bootlegging! an infamous nightclub! – that is today his stock-in-trade.

Research, he says, is critical to his growing business, which over the last five years has thrived in offering walking tours and theatre-style adventures into Vancouver’s past, and earned a top rating on a major online travel site.

“So much of that history of Vancouver is lovingly housed at VPL,” says Woods, who heralds the “supernatural ability” of library staff to help him find just what he needs.

“That research [for Forbidden Vancouver] continues to this day, and it’s the historic backbone to our tours,” he says.

Where Woods is a regular to the library’s historical holdings – its special collections section – the wealth of resources, specialized databases (no charge!), free Wi-Fi and hands-on workshops are destinations for others exploring their own fledgling ventures.

“I look around at the desks every time I’m at the library and I see so many start-ups and entrepreneurs hard at work.”

Find free resources for start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses.

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VPL: Updates on the Library’s Response to COVID-19

In order to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus:

  • All VPL locations are now closed until further notice
  • All programs and events are cancelled

The health and well-being of our patrons, partners and employees is always the top priority of Vancouver Public Library.  We are in daily contact with the City of Vancouver and provincial agencies to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely.

Digital Library Use

To help you stay connected with information and entertainment, VPL offers e-books and e-audiobooks that you can download to your phone, tablet or e-reader. We can also offer you many streaming TV shows and movies. You can even learn a new language or take online courses on countless topics. Visit the Digital Library to get started.

How can Vancouver residents who need a library card get one?

If you are a Vancouver resident and do not have a library card you can currently register online to access our Digital Library. Please call us at 604-331-3670 of you have any further questions.

Services affected by the closure

Are book drops still open?

No, book drops at all locations are now closed.

What about late fees and holds?

We know you have questions about library materials you have signed out. Here is our list of FAQ’s on materials.

  • Please keep the books and other materials you have borrowed and return them when we reopen.
  • All late fees will be suspended. Due dates have been extended to six weeks and will be adjusted as needed.
  • There will be no charges for holds not picked up during this time. Current holds will be extended and available for pickup when we reopen.
  • Inspiration Passes have been paused. If you received a pass on or after March 11, you will be placed at the top of the queue when the passes are reactivated.

What’s happening with VPL programs and events?

All VPL programs are cancelled until further notice. The cancellation fee will be waived for rentals during this time.

Where can I get updates on VPL services and programs?

We are updating this page with any changes. Follow us on Twitter for news. Important updates will be displayed at the top of our website.

Feeling sick?

Please stay at home and take care of yourself. We want everyone to stay healthy!

The province has created a phone service to provide non-medical information about COVID-19, including the latest information on travel recommendations and social distancing. Information is available in more than 110 languages, 7:30 am – 8 pm at 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319) or via text message at 604-630-0300.

Want to learn more?

Take a look at our research guide on Coronavirus (COVID-19).