Check out nearly completed Picton Branch expansion

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

Construction on the Picton Branch Library is nearly complete.

Staff and patrons now have access to two of the three floors, with the lowest level flex space and the front foyer still under construction as well as occasional work on other spaces as needed. Despite the disruption of ongoing work, users regularly express their delight when they see the new features and expanded space for books, meeting rooms, and technology.

The construction has been underway since 2021. Like many building projects of this size, there have been delays. Add in the complications of supply chain issues and COVID, and it’s no surprise that there have also been cost increases. The good news is that two donors have come forward with a matching challenge in support of the build. Base 31 and PEC Community Partners have committed $25,000, and an anonymous donor has committed $100,000 in matching funds – this means they will match every dollar raised by the library, up to $125,000.

“The response from patrons to their new library has been superb, and we are determined to finish the project by delivering the building we initially envisioned,” said CEO Barbara Sweet. “In order to realize the full $125,000 that has been promised, we are turning to the community to help us meet the matching challenge.” Donations can be made in person, by mail, or through e-transfer. Every $10 becomes $20 so it’s a great time to give. Public libraries are often called the “Great Equalizer” because they are one space in the community that is equally available to everyone with no barrier to entry.

Christina de Castell, the chief librarian at the Vancouver Public Library said in an article in the Globe and Mail, “In a recession or an economic downturn, we see much higher use of libraries historically, when people are struggling with money. That’s the time they discover everything that libraries have to offer.”

This is true in Picton too, and staff regularly assist people with printing resumes, job searching, and accessing technology and books with no cost associated. Children’s programs help ensure that no one is left out or left behind.

For example, Storytime is a fun opportunity for children and their adults to meet each other and enjoy themselves, but it’s also a powerful early literacy-building program anyone can join. These are just a few examples of the ways libraries serve everyone. If you have not yet visited the newly expanded Picton Branch, drop by, and check it out. Enter through the side door and use the elevator or stairs to visit the second floor.

-Liz Zylstra