Expansion project expected to last 18 months

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

The highly anticipated Picton Branch Library expansion had an exciting first step last week as six-year-old Dahlia Donovan helped us break ground on the project.

Dahlia’s lemonade stand supporting the library expansion raised over $500 – that’s a lot of lemons!

“This library expansion will serve many future generations,” said Alexandra Bake, fundraising committee chair, “and so, it was fitting to have one of our youngest supporters break ground for the project. Our heartfelt thanks to Dahlia and the hundreds of other library lovers, young and old, who have made this possible.”

In addition to Dahlia, her mum Tarayn Hiddink, and Alexandra Bake, the ground-breaking was attended by board chair Devon Jones, architect Brian Clark, Peter Knudsen and Joe Andrus of Knudsen Construction, and library CEO Barbara Sweet.

“We’re thrilled to have shovels in the ground and be taking a big step forward towards providing the Prince Edward County community with enhanced library services through the expansion and renovation of the Picton branch,” said Devon Jones, library board chair.

The expansion will be added behind the existing library, leaving the historic façade unchanged. The current building will also be renovated, allowing many of the original features to be restored. The project is expected to take approximately eighteen months. Though there may be some additional noise as a result of the construction, library service should be largely uninterrupted as the expansion will be built and then joined on to the existing building. The newly expanded library will be double the existing square footage and will have a larger book collection, quiet meeting space, technology areas and improved washrooms and more.

“As a result of COVID-19, the ground-breaking ceremony was not the large celebration this community funded expansion deserves,” said library CEO Barbara Sweet, “but we are hopeful that the eventual ribbon-cutting will be! There are countless library champions we would like to thank for making this project possible.” The expansion will improve library services at all branches of the library – as all materials are shared between the six branches. Any programs or services available at one branch can be provided at another providing there is interest and space allows.

We will document the construction online on our Facebook and Instagram @peclibrary. So far we’ve shared photos of the excavator at work and some antique bottles discovered at the site. Many years ago, the basement of the building was used as a gentleman’s club and we are guessing that is their origin. Fundraising is still underway for this project with $2,375,671 of $2,800,00 raised to date.

Please consider contributing online at loveyourlibrary.ca or at any branch of the library.

-Liz Zylstra