Inside The Library: Council approval for tender a step forward

We are going to tender! Last week County council received a contingent from the library seeking their approval to take this next critical step towards the Picton branch expansion. To be able to break ground this spring as planned, we must be able to see who out there is interested in the project and obtain the quotes to confirm our budget.

Council expressed some concern that we were taking this step before raising all of the $2 million, the projected cost of the project. However, library board chair Devon Jones assured council that the board was prepared to review options for controlling the budget should that become necessary. Councillor John Hirsch paid our fundraising chair Alexandra Bake a huge compliment when he stated that after meeting her while on a tour of the library, he had every confidence in the board and fundraising committee’s ability to raise the requisite funds.

All of Prince Edward County has been incredibly supportive of our expansion plans. The Friends of the Library groups all over the County have contributed to the project. Ameliasburgh, Consecon, Wellington and Milford – they all recognized that with more shelf space for books in Picton, there will be more books flowing through the library system to them. No one who has visited our Picton branch will argue the need for more space. Over the past couple of weeks some of our councillors visited the branch to take a tour. They saw some features that we would normally keep hidden! I know this has piqued your interest, but let me just say our interlibrary loan librarian Jenn Kingma is a very good sport. She handles thousands of books yearly flowing to and out of the county and the furnace room is neither a well-appointed nor aesthetically pleasing space in which to accomplish that task.

Councillor Bill Roberts was one who made the tour and despite some of the grim sights he saw, emerged able to speak eloquently to his fellow councillors last Thursday regarding the benefits of a strong library system to the community. He cited the Brookings Institute: “The most important thing a community can do is invest in its’ library”. He further noted that a rural renaissance is happening in Prince Edward and that a robust public library system is a critical component of that. Roberts further noted that this was happening at very little cost to the taxpayer. To date, 77 per cent of the needed money had been raised by the library.

I recommended to all library staff that they watch the live stream of the meeting to catch his inspiring words. I know the contingent of supporters and presenters left council buoyed by his comments. This gives a context as to why so many are working so hard to make this project a reality and this is why donors large and small have made a point to visit the library to drop off a cheque, to address an envelope, or to make a donation online. So far in 2019 we have raised an amazing $1,000 a day!

Andrew Carnegie, in an act of philanthropy that has perhaps been rivalled only once in the one hundred intervening years, gifted Canada, the United States and other countries around the world with libraries. The town of Picton built their Carnegie library in 1907. It stands still on the Picton Main Street, little altered but a little tired.

We look forward to not only gaining additional space, but to restoring our “best gift” to its former glory. The facade that we all know and love will remain intact while the inside of the building gets an upgrade, well-deserved after over a century of serving the community. This building and all that it symbolizes is a project that ensures a strong future for our community and its residents.

Please consider (if you haven’t already) making a contribution to this project to build for the next century.

– Barbara Sweet