Inside The Library: Library board prepares for Picton project tender

I am pleased to provide an update on our renewal project for the Picton library expansion. To date $1,530,502 of the $2 million needed to break ground for the library addition this spring has been raised.

The fundraising committee, along with the help of the municipality, The Parrott Foundation, several bequests, and you, has raised over 75 per cent of the needed funds. We are confident that we will achieve our goal in time to move forward this year.

To that end the committee has a number of events and initiatives lined up: Renew, an online art auction, our popular Library Pop-up Shop (to date we have raised over $2,000 there ), author Dave Meslin at the Regent Theatre, and several fundraising dinners (whose hosts will sell tickets) as well as DiscARTed. The fundraising committee chair, Alexandra Bake, has also spoken to vendors and trades people who have offered in-kind donations. Our fundraising efforts are coming together and now the push is on.

Next month the library board will be going before County council to get their permission to go to tender for this project. As good custodians of taxpayer resources they will want the board to demonstrate that we are on solid financial footing, that this project is contributing in a meaningful way to the community and that we have anticipated as much as possible all future implications.

The Picton branch today is little changed from the original 1907 Carnegie library. Two small additions, one to house the elevator and another that is the current day fiction section, have been added. However, many, many new features and services have been sandwiched in!

Today, the modern library has evolved as the go-to source of instruction and introduction to new technologies of all types. The original children’s room downstairs has been pared away to half its’ size to accommodate computers, 3D printers, and an information technology office for tutorials and to store devices.

The old furnace room downstairs has become the office for our interlibrary loan librarian and the location where we process most of our new books. This is not lovely and it is small but Jenn has made the best of it with a couple of plants for décor and her super organizational skills that keep all of the materials moving in the right direction. When the library was first built there was no such thing as large print books! In 1907 there was no money in the book budget for children’s books. In fact even novels were not largely featured in the collection of the day. Accessibility was not a concern; our accessible-in-the-1980s washroom is in the middle of the downstairs hall and there is not the convenience of a washroom at all upstairs. All this is to say that times have changed, and though we have kept up with the times our building is stretched to its limits.

Another example of our shrinking space comes to mind when this past Christmas the library held a music workshop for primary students. The demand was so great and the space so small that instead of having one performance we held three to accommodate everyone. Needless to say that added to the cost and the staff time involved in co-ordinating this visit.

The library provides so many services and opportunities for learning and development, the vast majority of them free and open to all. We hope that you will consider joining the board and the fundraising committee when we present to council March 14 at 1 Shire Hall. We would welcome you to come and show your support or to hear our presentation. We hope that after hearing from us you too will support us in our bid to bring our Carnegie building up to a standard that supports the needs of Prince Edward County residents in 2019 and for another 100 years.

– Barbara Sweet