Group calls for new or im­proved li­brary

Of­fi­cials es­ti­mate 450-500 peo­ple come through McCon­nell Li­brary on av­er­age day

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE -

SYD­NEY — A grass­roots group of lo­cal res­i­dents says the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity needs ei­ther a new cen­tral li­brary or a makeover of the ex­ist­ing McCon­nell Li­brary build­ing.

Ron­ald Ca­plan, pub­lisher of Bre­ton Books and a mem­ber of the res­i­dents’ com­mit­tee, said Tues­day at this stage, the res­i­dents hope to start the con­ver­sa­tion in Cape Bre­ton about the need for a new or ren­o­vated li­brary.

“Maybe our goal is to make this our kitchen talk for peo­ple across the is­land to re­al­ize here is an­other es­sen­tial prob­lem we have to solve and all of the in­put both in sup­port and ideas we can get from our neigh­bours is re­ally what we are looking for at this mo­ment.

“ We haven’t gone to any­one in terms of get­ting money. We just want to be sure the prob­lem is un­der­stood, that it is a prob­lem to be solved and if we don’t start now, it will be a prob­lem years from now.”

Fol­low­ing a tour of the McCon­nell which was built in 1959, the group also said in a let­ter to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity that lo­ca­tions for a new li­brary in the down­town core of Syd­ney should be stud­ied and plans should be drawn up by an ar­chi­tect work­ing with the li­brary board for ei­ther a new build­ing or the ren­o­va­tion project.

Hal­i­fax is get­ting a new $55-mil­lion re­place­ment for its down­town cen­tral li­brary. Antigonish is set to open a new $5-mil­lion li­brary com­plex in Novem­ber.

Li­brary of­fi­cials es­ti­mate that on an av­er­age day be­tween 450 and 500 peo­ple come through the doors at McCon­nell Li­brary and that the Syd­ney area has close to 13,000 ac­tive li­brary users.

Li­braries are of­fer­ing more ser­vices now, in­clud­ing ac­cess to com­put­ers, Ca­plan said.

“ You know, the call for what peo­ple want a li­brary for has grown and grown but the fa­cil­ity, the build­ing, has not.”

McCon­nell Li­brary has seven com­put­ers while the new Hal­i­fax li­brary will have 248 com­put­ers, the let­ter noted.

A large num­ber of books are kept in the base­ment of the McCon­nell Li­brary some of which could be on dis­play in a larger build­ing, said Ca­plan.

Li­brar­i­ans have to lug books back and forth from the base­ment, he said. “They need an el­e­va­tor. They need it for them­selves, they need it to be re­spect­ful to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.”

The McCon­nell lacks an air­con­di­tion­ing sys­tem for the com­fort of read­ers and of staff and for the preser­va­tion of the col­lec­tion of rare Cape Bre­ton and Nova Sco­tia books in the Nova Sco­tia Room, he said.

The grass­roots com­mit­tee also in­cludes his­to­rian Robert Mor­gan, Coun. Claire Detheridge, busi­ness­man Kirk McRae, Ron­ald Rooth of the Cape Bre­ton Uni­ver­sity li­brary, com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tives Lynn Rud­der­ham and Diana Schwartz and Ros­alie Gil­lis, of the li­brary staff, while re­gional li­brar­ian Faye MacDougall is serv­ing as an ad­viser.

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