Anyone with a valid VIRL card is now able to check out a thermal imagining camera through their home branch. Photo by Ali Roddam

Anyone with a valid VIRL card is now able to check out a thermal imagining camera through their home branch. Photo by Ali Roddam

Getting a better look into the library

VIRL adds thermal cameras into circulation

This story is part of the Comox Valley Record’s winter edition of Trio Magazine, published quarterly and available throughout the Comox Valley. The winter edition is available at the Record office (407D Fifth St.) and at businesses throughout the Comox Valley.

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While books, magazines and DVDs are the usual items that come to mind for library offerings, the Vancouver Island Regional Library branches in the Comox Valley are set to put a hot item into circulation.

Anyone with a valid VIRL card is now able to check out a thermal imaging camera through their home branch – one of five available from either the Courtenay, Cumberland, Comox or Hornby Island branches.

The idea to bring the cameras into circulation was brought forth from a member of the Valley community who collected donations for the cameras, explained Jessica Humphries, customer services librarian, adult services at the Courtenay branch.

Because it was a Valley resident who came up with the idea, VIRL decided to use the area’s libraries as home branches, but the cameras can be checked out anywhere across VIRL’s region – from Sooke to Haida Gwaii and many places in between.

“Often people need thermal imaging cameras for one-time projects like home renovations, HVAC problems, water damage or climate issues and they don’t need it every day,” said Humphries. “This way, someone can borrow it for a few weeks and bring it back once they’re done.”

The cameras work by plugging into a smartphone – there are two that work with iPhones and three with Android phones – and can help in a variety of places around the home: to identify heat loss, areas with water damage or electrical panels.

The cameras are small – about the size of a smartphone – and users can watch a series on YouTube for instructions on how to use the cameras, noted Humphries.

Worth about $300 each, the cameras have entered into circulation into VIRL’s system and can be put on hold through the website, something Humphries recommends due to popularity.

“With COVID, it’s got us thinking about how to better meet the needs of our customers and reach people who may not engage with the library – this might be one way to connect with people,” she said.

“I’m really happy (getting the cameras into circulation) and I’m hoping we can continue to build on that.”

Humphries said libraries also offer a variety of non-traditional services including computer and internet access, programming and digital resources. She sees thermal cameras as one of many non-traditional items libraries can offer to the public.

“In Terrace, they have the Library of Things, and some libraries you can check out snowshoes, canning machines and a variety of games. In some U.S. libraries, you can even check-out musical instruments. I do hope to continue to expand on our collection, but we have to take into consideration storage space and longevity.”

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