Library seeks go-ahead to seek requests for tender expansion project

County Live

Picton’s library is expected to receive the green light to learn the true costs of moving into its new chapter, as council’s committee of the whole members approved, on Thursday, to allow the expansion project to move to requests for tender.

“We are asking for the green light to begin the tendering process to get confirmation of our estimated costs,” said Devon, Jones, the library’s board chair.

The library, she told councillors, has outgrown its space and is in need of refurbishment. Picton’s branch is the hub for distribution and services among the six branches in the County.

The community relies on us, said Barbara Sweet, CEO of the Prince Edward County Public Libraries “The 2018 Vital Signs Report tells us that PEC students score two per cent lower than the Ontario average. The library has many literacy-based programs, including a tutoring program contributing to improving these scores. Research shows children who develop literacy skills have a greater success in their future.”

Sweet noted the median age in the County is 54.5 years, and 29.8 per cent of the population is 65 years of age, or older.

“The library (physical and virtual), provides a sense of connection to combat social isolation. Research shows people who feel connected to their community have better health outcomes.”

Statistics also note the prevalence of low income has almost doubled since 2010 and for those who cannot afford a computer, or access to the internet, are using the library as an essential service.

“Since 2013, there has been over 100 per cent growth in self-employed business,” she notes, adding the library has become a place where entrepreneurs can work, conduct research and interact.

The value to the community of all books and services, per month, as determined by the Library Services Centre, is pegged at $437,305.98.

Books, services and programs are all provided free of charge and are focused on all ages – from infants, children and teenagers, through to senior’s fitness programs, specific workshops and delivery of books to home and nursing homes. There’s also technical help and instruction for everybody with phones, tablets and computers.

“The space to hold these appointments is currently very limited, and cramped,” she said. Some elements, like the washrooms, do not meet current building standards.

“All of that and the community is asking for more,” said Sweet. “We simply lack the space and facilities to provide it.”

Thus the ‘It’s Overdue Time to Renew’ campaign to rebuild the library continues to allow an expanded collection, meeting rooms, improved accessibility, family-friendly washrooms, quiet study space, storage space and dedicated space to use equipment for anything from 3D printing, to embroidery. A new balcony will bring a multi-purpose space for meetings, events and daily use.

Alexandra Bake, fundraising committee chair, told council the library has raised more than 75 per cent of its needed funds in the past 10 months. It has $1,545,535 in hand toward its $2 million goal.

Coming fundraisers include the Renew Art Auction, DiscARTed, funds from the Pop Up Shop on Main Street, dinners and the spring Authors’ Festival.

Jones said next steps include seeking in-kind, corporate, business and foundations donations.

She noted the community has shown a tremendous appetite to support the library coming forward with more than $320,000 – much of which has been in $20 or $50 donations from all across the County.

The breakdown includes estate bequests at $260,806; a $100,000 Parrot Foundation grant; capital of $360,000 set aside in the last two County budgets, estimated development charges at $538,324.

If the library tenders come in well over budget, the board is prepared to consider its options – including more fundraising efforts, or consideration to postponing some aspects. She noted, for example, the kitchen and washrooms in the basement could be roughed-in but not finished and the three storey elevator walls could be built with the elevator to follow. Landscaping could also be pushed forward.

The board hopes to begin the tendering process in April, and would like to see a construction start in June and completion by the end of 2020.

The tenders must also go to council for discussion and further approvals before moving forward.

Architect Brian Clark showed council some of the preliminary plans for the project which will effectively double its size.

“The addition will extend both of the library’s floors to the rear, in addition to a basement area with outside access,” he said. A new entrance will be provided on the lower level with access to the elevator.

The new three levels will be laid out with the upper level for books, reading, meeting rooms and office area.

The lower level will be a technology level with computer cafe and an outdoor balcony, sound room, children’s library and general programming area.

The basement will be a multi-purpose area with presentation and lecture area with access to the outdoor courtyard.

The final approval to move to requests for tenders is to be made at the March 26 council meeting.