Hussar Library closes, board looks for future options
When Hussar School closed its doors for the last time at the end of June, the Hussar Municipal Library marked the end of a chapter, and the small community is temporarily without most library services.
The consolidation of Hussar School into the new Wheatland Crossing School has left the Hussar library without a home.
“The library board didn't feel that sustaining a library in a school that's not being occupied and needs repair would be a financially viable option,” said Marigold Library Services CEO Michelle Toombs.
“We can't afford a facility,” said board member Kathy Dundas. “And there isn't a space available to use right now.”
Golden Hills School Division had offered sale of the building to both the Village of Hussar and the community and both declined to purchase the building due to overhead costs and maintenance, said library board member Wendy Kaiser.
The building will likely be put up for sale by the school division, but if there are no buyers, it may be demolished.
Kaiser said there has been discussion with the local ag society about potentially adding onto the Hussar arena a smaller library, reading rooms, and village office space.
In the meantime, Dundas said the library will continue to offer the summer reading program until fall but the fate of future library services is still uncertain as the board discusses options, such as continuing to facilitate memberships for the community, maintaining a best-seller rotunda at some location in Hussar, and even the possibility of purchasing a “smart locker” storage unit, which would have members scan their membership cards in order to gain access to books they've requested for delivery.
“It would really be a neat concept that I know would work here,” said Dundas. “But it's up in the air right now.”
Marigold recently launched a locker in Airdrie and has been looking at the possibility of opening more in other communities, said Marigold CEO Toombs.
Members can continue to order books for mail delivery, access Marigold's ebook library and online services, and can still access services from nearby Marigold libraries such as in Drumheller.
But the closure of Hussar's library is still a loss for the community says Dundas.
“Our library had a very strong membership and was used quite extensively. It was busy. We had after school programming, quite often people would use the public access computers for going online and printing.”
Municipalities are responsible for their library services, required to provide the location, staffing, programs, frontline service, and operated by an autonomous board. Library funding comes through council allocations and provincial funding, as well as local fundraisers.
Marigold provides these libraries with services such as IT and technical support, catalogue services, professional consultation, deliveries, and purchases materials for placement in the circulation catalogue. Marigold also gives some money back into local libraries to allow resource sharing between member libraries throughout the province.
The library's book collection has not been disposed of yet, but the board said they likely will be in the future.