Dr. Kuldeep and Dr. Reenu Sandhu of Picton Dental Centre believe in the importance of the public library.

Dr. Kuldeep Sandhu explains that when he first came to Canada from Delhi, India, one of the first places he went was to the public library in Scarborough to get a book to help him with his English. As he notes, “Money is hard to come by when you first come to Canada”, and the public library was a great place to get the information he needed at no charge. The library provides education and access to information with no barriers, welcoming anyone seeking information.

Dr. Sandhu and his family are showing their support for the Picton Library Expansion campaign by sponsoring the restoration of the fireplace on the main level of the branch. Nonfunctional for many years, the fireplace was once a centrepiece in the Carnegie library. When the library is expanded, the fireplace will return to its former glory with a new gas insert. When asked why this feature in particular appealed to him to support, Dr. Sandhu remarked “Canada is a cold country!”. He notes a fireplace is cozy and brings to mind a mother reading to her children as Dr. Reenu Sandhu has done many times with their children.

The Sandhus participate in “Dentistry from the Heart” bringing no cost dental care for the past eight years to residents of Picton.

“Drs Kuldeep and Reenu Sandhu’s substantial donation is another example of their deep commitment to their community and the County. Their generosity is greatly appreciated,” said Elizabeth Etue, member of the library fundraising committee.

The Canadian Register of Historic Places explains that Carnegie libraries, like the one on Picton’s Main Street, were designed to be inspiring, welcoming and cozy and the fireplaces contributed to that ambiance. “You cannot mistake a Carnegie library building: the words ‘PUBLIC LIBRARY’ or ‘CARNEGIE LIBRARY’ are prominently displayed above the front entrance. Interior furnishings were welcoming and cosy. Oak floors, high ceilings, finely-made wood bookshelves, stained glass windows, and fireplaces provided the ideal setting to enjoy the library’s services.”

The Picton Branch is the only Carnegie library in Prince Edward County (The Wellington Branch Library looks like a Carnegie but it was funded by Dr. Parry Saylor – another doctor who saw the benefits of the library). The fireplace at the Wellington Branch Library was restored several years ago by the Friends of the Wellington Library.

Many of the Picton Branch’s original architectural details are intact and the Main Street location is essential for many who walk to the library. However, the building is overcrowded and too small for our current population size based on provincial standards. The “new normal” of COVID 19 including requirements for physical distancing, has highlighted the limitations already identified by the library board.

-Liz Zylstra