Richmond Public Library (RPL) is hoping to introduce more people to the sport and Richmond's waterways by lending out fishing tackle kits.
The new “Fishing ExplorePacks” include a fishing rod and line, pliers, floaters, weights, lures and baitholders.
While the fishing kits are geared towards beginners – and include information and instructions on how to get started fishing – they can be used by anyone, according to Shane Parmar, RPL’s coordinator of community development and service design, who worked to bring the kits to the library.
Some of the kits come with multiple fishing rods so they can be checked out by a group.
Parmar pointed out libraries “have been changing for quite a while,” and lend out more than just books.
“Expanding access to non-traditional forms of library services is something that we need to do to remain relevant,” he said.
“People don’t think of libraries as being something that would loan out fishing rods and reels and that sort of thing. But, we’re here to allow people to borrow things that they normally would not be able to either afford, or something that they just want to do occasionally.”
He explained he learned of another organization in Washington State that offered fishing kits, and thought it would make for a good addition to the library. Fishing gear is also supplied through libraries in Ontario, but RPL is the first in Western Canada to do so.
The kits, said Parmar, provide “equality of access.”
“I grew up in the Steveston area and my family wasn’t that well-off. My friends would always ask me to go fishing with them, and really I couldn’t afford it – I could not afford it at all, like rod and reel and tackle,” he said.
“That always stuck with me. So when I found out about this, I thought, well, this is something we can do for the public to provide to those that don’t have the ability to go out and collect all these things, to be able to borrow it from the library and then enjoy our waterways.”
He said he hopes the fishing kits will help people appreciate nature and recognize – such as with catch-and-release fishing – the importance of protecting waterways such as the Fraser River and “to be able to make sure that fish are there for future generations,” as well as their place in the ecosystem.
“Richmond is a place that is quickly urbanizing…which is great, that’s wonderful, but there should also be an appreciation of the nature that’s around us, to protect that nature as well.”
The city also has strong ties to fishing, noted Parmar, from Indigenous communities to the Japanese and South Asian immigrants who worked in the canneries, and Steveston’s present fishing industry.
The rods and gear were provided at no cost to RPL through a donation from Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C.’s rod loan program, which reduces barriers to access for people who want to try fishing, said Jessica Yarwood, outreach coordinator for the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, in a statement.
The kits are being run as a pilot program, and more could be added to the library’s collection in the future.
They are available for one-week loans with a Richmond library card. People over 16 also need a licence to fish in B.C.
The kits are only available at the Brighouse branch, and need to be returned to that branch, but can be checked out either in person or on RPL’s website.
The fishing tackle is the third set of new kits RPL has added to its collection this year, following 10 Birdwatching ExplorePacks – donated by Birds Canada – and STEAM kits for school-aged children. Ukulele kits will be added in the coming months, and Parmar said he also hopes to add hiking kits in the future to help people explore local trails.