NG urged to start lo­cal in­de­pen­dent li­brary sys­tem

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY AN­GELA BROWN News Staff

The lo­cal Friends of the Dalkeith Li­brary haven’t spo­ken their fi­nal words yet.

In an­other bid to try to save, or by now re­sus­ci­tate, the Dalkeith Li­brary, mem­bers of the group re­turned to North Glen­garry coun­cil last Monday to ask if the town­ship could break off from the SDG United Coun­ties Li­brary juris­dic­tion and run li­brary branches in the town­ship un­der a sep­a­rate sys­tem.

Dalkeith, St. An­drews West and More­wood li­braries of­fi­cially closed Sept. 6.

“Li­braries are part of a com­mu­nity’s strength. We need a North Glen­garry Li­brary Sys­tem,” said former SDG Coun­ties Li­brary Board vice- chair Bar­bara Le­htiniemi, who said that sep­a­rat­ing from the SDG sys­tem could re­sult in cost sav­ings.

It wouldn’t be set­ting a prece­dent for a li­brary to op­er­ate out­side of the United Coun­ties Li­brary sys­tem.

In 1992, a lo­cal Mart­in­town Op­ti­mist Club opened a small li­brary in the vil­lage’s old com­mu­nity cen­tre. It ran un­til close to the time the new cen­tre opened in 2008.

The li­brary was run by vol­un­teers and of­fered mainly do­nated and sec­ond-hand books.

Mart­in­town res­i­dent Art Buckland used to visit the former Mart­in­town Li­brary and be­lieves small com­mu­nity li­braries can run suc­cess­fully with help from vol­un­teers and by re­duc­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion costs.

“It’s quite upset­ting. So­cial in­sti­tu­tions should be in­ter­ested in up­grad­ing the lit­er­acy of the area,” he said of the re­cent clo­sures. “By re­mov­ing li­braries you are los­ing that op­por­tu­nity to help the area.”

He also won­ders what will hap­pen to all the books housed in Dalkeith, St. An­drews West and More­wood li­braries.

Onagh Ross, owner of Onagh's Book Nook in Mart­in­town, used to vol­un­teer at the former Mart­in­town Li­brary and said “it breaks my heart” to see any li­brary clos­ing.

Mart­in­town res­i­dent San­dra Jarvo re­calls about 30 years ago a Trav­el­ling Li­brary Bus would visit ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties at cer­tain times once a week. “It went to all the vil­lages; we en­joyed it,” she said.

North Glen­garry Deputy Mayor and SDG United Coun­ties War­den Jamie MacDon­ald – who is also an SDG United Coun­ties Li­brary Board mem­ber and voted against clos­ing li­braries in Dalkeith, St. An­drews West and More­wood – said “we are look­ing for al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions. I just don’t know that we can do it ... It would be a fi­nan­cial de­ci­sion.”

The SDG Coun­ties Li­brary Board voted in favour of the clo­sures in sep­a­rate votes July 29 and Sept. 6. South Glen­garry Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost, a Li­brary Board mem­ber, also voted against the clo­sures.

Mrs. Le­htiniemi re­signed from her po­si­tion on the board fol­low­ing the first vote in July to ex­press her dis­ap­point­ment with the board’s process in hold­ing the vote in a hasty man­ner with­out first hold­ing a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Mart­in­town res­i­dent Cal Martin who uses St. An­drews West Li­brary plans to make a pre­sen­ta­tion to South Stor­mont Sept. 28 ask­ing if SS can run its li­brary branches in­de­pen­dently, in a bid to sal­vage the St. An­drews West branch.

Fol­low­ing North Glen­garry coun­cil’s meet­ing, Mayor Chris McDonell won­dered whether the town­ship could af­ford to op­er­ate its li­brary branches in a sep­a­rate sys­tem, adding staffing costs for the town­ship to op­er­ate the Dalkeith, Alexan­dria and Maxville li­braries could be daunt­ing.

“It would be nice if we could do that but I don’t think we can af­ford it,” said Mr. McDonell. “It’s a lot of work and we don’t have peo­ple in our of­fice who are qual­i­fied to run the li­brary. What do you do?”

War­den Jamie MacDon­ald had hoped SDG United Coun­ties Coun­cil would be able reach some sort of com­pro­mise so­lu­tion to help “keep our li­braries go­ing.” The is­sue was ex­pected to be dis­cussed again at SDG United Coun­ties Coun­cil Sept. 19.

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