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Library presents preliminary plans for expansion/restoration

Council supports preliminary plans for a $1.2 million expansion and restoration to the Picton Public Library Branch approving consideration of an allocation of $320,000 in the 2018 budget. (UPDATE: The funding will be spread over two budget years).

The 110-year-old library continues to surge in popularity due to expansion offerings of programs and services on top of books, cds and periodicals offered, but it no longer meets accessibility standards and its offerings do not meet what’s considered required for the population using the facility.

John Ambrose, chair of the library board and archives, told council “this is for the Picton branch, but the benefits extend to all six branches.” Noting the popularity of the branch, he stated “the library is 40 per cent more used than the average of all public libraries across Canada.”

Barbara Sweet, CEO for the library, told council at budget meetings Tuesday morning, that the Picton branch should have space for 46,200 items but is over-full with the current collection size of 17,951.

“This library is 110-year-old and is little altered since Andrew Carnegie donated $10,000 to the Town of Picton in 1907. Two small additions have been added over the years,” said Sweet, noting between May and September, the library welcomed more than 86,000 visitors.

Over the past year, the library facilitated more than 763 appointments with people requiring help with technology (such as how to use computers, phones and 3D printers). More than 11,200 people attended programs and 180,950 books, cds, periodicals and digital materials were borrowed. On a typical week, more than 800 people visit the Picton Branch. That figure rises in the tourist season and stresses use of the washrooms.

Immediate needs also include a new heating and ventilation system which is more than 30 years old, and accessible washrooms. The preliminary plans also include quiet study space and areas for programming and community use.

The library has acquired almost half of the $1.2 million capital forecast through bequests, a Parrott Foundation donation and efforts of the Friends of the Picton Public Library. A fundraising capital campaign will be launched to fund the balance. Partnership opportunities are also being explored. The library is also working with its neighbours – the Armoury Mall and Regent Theatre, to find benefits to all.

“Working with the new owners of the Armoury Mall, our joint efforts and planning have the potential to create an improved link from Mary Street, to the Main Street,” she said. We look forward to working with partners old and new in creating an updated, modern space.”

Brian Clark, the architect of the project, showed impressive preliminary drawings that show a two-storey addition added to the back of the facility that would include a lecture theatre, and the addition of a basement below as a multi-purpose room for rental, and possibly an outdoor amphitheatre style area.

“The present building is about 10,000 square feet – about 5,000 on two levels and we’re looking at putting an additional 5,000 square feet on the back,” said Clark. “We’re looking at extending both levels and adding a third level as a basement underneath.”

The lecture theatre aspect, Sweet says, is capturing imaginations throughout the community as is an area for public use by groups such as Community Care for Seniors where they can take advantage of the library’s visual and hearing technologies to host workshops.

“The next step for us is to get our plans out there for public input,” she said.


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  1. Gary says:

    Contact Shire Hall.

  2. Laura says:

    Is the redesign of the Library extension going to RFP process? I don’t remember seeing a public call for the Architecture scheme and it’s a county/public owned asset isn’t it? Were other area architecture firms given the opportunity to submit designs and proposals? There are quite a few with both municipal experience and heritage preservation that would like to submit and bid on this project.

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