Library opens the door to everyone

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

A founding principle of the public library is it should be welcoming and accessible to everyone – no one should be excluded from making use of the informational, educational, and entertaining collections and services offered.

Unfortunately, the reality is that the Picton Branch building has not always been equal to our aspirations for accessibility. The elevator, added in 2002, made it possible for everyone to access the second floor, but in many areas the building is still lacking including crowded areas and inadequate washrooms.  These limitations will be addressed in the expansion, which will break ground this spring.

We recently applied for a grant from the Government of Ontario through the Inclusive Community Grants Program. This fund helps ensure local governments and community organizations consider Ontarians of all ages and abilities at every stage of community planning and development. We are delighted to announce that we have received the funding to further enhance the accessibility features in the expansion and future-proof the building for years to come.

This funding will allow us to add a weatherproof curbside pickup box outside, so that we can continue to offer contactless curbside pickup as a permanent feature of library service. This service was added as a COVID safety protocol, but we have discovered it has been a benefit to patrons for many other reasons as well. For example, we have heard from a number of patrons who have mobility challenges that accessing books this way makes trips to the library much easier.  Additionally, this pickup box will mean that Community Care for Seniors Volunteers who deliver library books to individuals, nursing, and retirement homes across Prince Edward County will be able to pick up bags of books without having to carry them throughout the building.

The grant will also add benches along the outside pathway to the automatic door to allow people to rest on their way into the library, an additional automatic door inside the building, adjustable and accessible computer workstations, and an adult change table in the washroom.

Our heartfelt thanks to the library patrons who assisted us in preparing this grant application.

“As a member of the Prince Edward County Accessibility Advisory Committee, I am pleased to know that the library is making every effort to exceed minimum requirements for accessibility.” said Nancy Stephenson.

Another member of the PEC Accessibility Committee, Misu Burns, who helped us with the application, explains the significance of the project.

“”The expansion of the Picton Branch Library will make it possible for the library to continue to serve everyone equally and the increased accessibility tools proposed through this project will ensure that it meets the needs of our community for many years to come.”We will continue to share details the expansion throughout the process.

If you have any questions about the expansion – from what the plans include to where we are in the fundraising process, please email [email protected].

-Liz Zylstra