For the past 10 years, and throughout the term of two, maybe three library boards, we have been planning and awaiting opportunity to build on to the original Carnegie Library building in Picton.
In 2001 with the help of several bequests, grants and municipal support a small addition was added to house an elevator. The library board of that day recognized that it would not be long until they would be entertaining another addition, but for the time being the immediate need – an elevator was addressed.
Over the intervening years grant applications have been made and different plans formulated to meet the criteria of each. Discussions have been held about the relative merits of another small addition versus a larger addition, that though more costly, would not be outgrown in the foreseeable future. All this to say that it has been a long road to get to this point where the library board is poised to add much needed space to the branch.
Last week the chairman of the board, John Ambrose, architect Brian Clark (who has been with us since our first addition) and I presented a preliminary plan to council. Ambrose pointed out to council that the board had approximately 50 per cent of the needed funds to double the size of the library and to update the building to current accessibility standards and to the needs of the modern library visitor. This has been achieved thanks to several thoughtful bequests, ongoing donations and the efforts of the Friends of the Library, as well as a very generous grant from the John M. and Bernice Parrott Foundation the library board is poised to begin the build.
Two days later we learned that council had supported our request for support. The library board upon hearing this exciting news is now prepared to start a capital fundraising campaign. We feel like this is the last leg of a long journey to update and enhance a building that has served the community so long and well. Our goal is to be in a position in 2018 to start building.
The plans are now on display in the branch and we welcome feedback. The added space will allow for more shelving to expand our book and materials collection, a lecture theatre, accessible washrooms, an enlarged children’s area and a dedicated makerspace room. There are proposed quiet study areas, storage space and hopefully room for a used bookstore once again. One of the lessons that we have learned from touring other library renovations is to build in flexibility. As much as possible shelving will be on wheels and rooms designed to be multipurpose. Our patrons tell us they want lots of windows and light.
The board is committed to a building that is welcoming to everyone. Residents view the library as a community hub and often an extension of their own homes. When Andrew Carnegie donated $10 000 to the Town of Picton in 1907 to build our library he provided a choice of plans as well. The designs were always a variation on a theme. Carnegie libraries were designed to inspire.
Today Carnegie’s gift continues to grace Picton’s Main Street (and by the way throughout the consultation process this summer no one wanted the board to abandon the building). Though libraries have certainly evolved since 1907, this is still the goal. To quote our vision statement: “The library serves as a gathering place for learning, creation, collaboration, personal development and inspiration.” Over the next few months the library board and staff will be working hard to ensure that this community asset can continue to meet the needs of this growing and vibrant community.