New Pugwash Library Opens on Monday
The new $2.198-million Pugwash Library will open its doors to the public on Monday.
While the official opening is set for late July as a big celebration during Harbourfest, the new library will open for business with a completely new book collection and an excitement to match.
It has been more than ten years in the making as library officials struggled to provide modern services in the very old train station. It was too small and unsuitable for a library, though many have fond memories of time spent in the sometimes inhospitable surroundings, going back to 1988.
Staff were sometimes seen wearing their coats and gloves during the winter season, and while efforts were made to improve the inner environment, there was no doubt a new facility had to be built.
Enter the new area councillor and the new county mayor. Jennifer Houghtaling and Murray Scott championed the cause.
After countless meetings, studies, and drawings in an effort to build a multi-purpose officials concluded the community could not afford what the project had become. Mayor Scott asked, “What can we afford?”
The earlier effort found favour with some funding agencies, but not enough to sustain the project. The mayor suggested the project be dramatically streamlined to provide the basic library which was the objective in the first place.
Councillor Houghtaling maintained direct contact with the grass roots movement and led discussion at county council. In the end, council agreed the need and the long-standing promise had to be filled and the library project moved into high gear and is now ready to welcome its first patrons.
The community wasn’t simply sitting by expecting a free library. When asked to raise $500 thousand for the project, a funding campaign gathered nearly $600 thousand in a matter of weeks. Clearly, it was a project that had reached its time.
Work on the 3,900 square foot building began early last year.
The county’s project manager, Roger MacIsaac, says, “A year ago, this project was just a concept that had existed for four or five years. It’s gone from that concept to reality.” MacIsaac thanks the contractor, Iron Maple Construction, “It really is a credit to Iron Maple. They were great to work with and despite a few hiccups along the way they always came up with solutions to get the project completed with the community in mind.”
The library in the train station was one of the smallest in the seven-branch library system, but it remained among the busiest. Officials anticipate activity in Pugwash will grow even more in the new facility. The success of the local fundraising effort showed the true “library community” was much larger than the village, extending all along the Northumberland Strait and inland to Oxford and area.
Another huge improvement is accessibility. Pugwash will go from the least accessible branch to the most accessible in the Cumberland system. It is not just bigger, it is more open to get to, to get into, and to navigate for wheelchairs and people with limited mobility.
Councillor Houghtaling, who remained very much hands on throughout the project said she can’t wait to see the community’s reaction to the new building.
She said, “It has been over 10 years of community meetings discussing a new library for Pugwash for myself, and for others it has been much longer.” Houghtaling added, “I am so very grateful to the staff, mayor, and my fellow councillors who made this a priority and moved it to the top of the list for my community.
Houghtaling said the beautiful space and sunny nooks where people can enjoy a good book will be cherished by everyone, those who worked so hard to build it and those who will be attracted to the community.
The councilor added, “I have recently had several calls and emails about individuals and families who are considering Pugwash for their forever home due to the new library and hospital and the sense of community. Everyone will realise, as they walk through the doors, this gathering space will welcome all and be the heart of our beautiful village for many years to come.
While earlier attempts sought to build a large multi-use facility, the new library will a few extra touches. A program room will be used for various library events such as book club and activities for people both young and old. It will also be available as a community meeting space and organizations are already expressing interest.
Meanwhile, Mayor Scott also noted the county will use some space in the facility to provide a direct connection to municipal services. While it may not be a service centre, it will be a tangible access point.
The photos, by Darrell Cole, show the interior and the special 'Book Nook' where Community Engagement Librarian Charlotte Gallivan enjoyed a little break.
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