Photos and story by Sharon Harrison
The first-ever Night at the Library hosted by Prince Edward County Library hit the bestseller’s list Sunday.
The major fundraising gala, which enticed people to check out Picton branch library at night, was deemed a resounding success by organizers. The ‘It’s Overdue: Time to Renew’ library expansion project will see the present 110-year-old prominent structure on Picton’s Main Street double in size if plans come to fruition.
Organizers asked attendees to ‘Be Like Larry’ and while the evening was a spin on the Night at the Museum series of movies, exhibits and display animals didn’t exactly come to life and wreak havoc under the fall of darkness, but there were some unusual goings on inside the old library walls once night fell and darkness encroached.
“Our expansion project has been fabulous and the matching funds (of up to $100,000 this month) have made all the difference and we are inching closer and closer all the time to our goal. We are hoping to put shovels to the ground in June next year,” said Barbara Sweet, library CEO and fundraising committee member.
“This evening will really catapult us forward; it’s just fabulous and I think it was such a unique idea that Amy Shubert came up with and she and Edward have worked so hard on it, they have been planning for months,” she said.
Entertainment throughout the evening included a contingent of young local actors who each impersonated a famous book character through narration—suitably attired in appropriate-era finery, of course. The unique selection of vignettes ranged from Jane Eyre, Edgar Allan Poe and Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch.
Lurking in the shadows of the stacks on this most unusual evening were Luke Skywalker, Bilbo Baggins, and The Witches of Ronald Dahl. Exuberant narratives from the Mad Hatter, Sam McGee and Ms. Screwtape completed the evening’s lively performances.
Library expansion project chair, Alexandra Bake was thrilled at the very good turnout for the Night at the Library.
“We are very, very excited about the expansion project, so we are coming up to the end of October and our matching funds will be coming to an end and I am very hopeful that we will have reached our $100,000 challenge,” said Bake.
“We still have a fair way to go before we start construction in July, but it’s just a very exciting project to be a part of and I can’t wait to see the new library with all the light and extra space, the meeting rooms, the activity rooms, the recording studio, the green wall, lots and lots of wonderful things are going to happen,” she said.
Bake said the matching has been successful and as of Friday afternoon (Oct. 26) was at $90,000.
“I am hoping that by Wednesday, we will have met our $100,000 challenge,” she said.
Local businessman and library supporter, Carl Joly said he had talked to the architect tonight and there are issues with timing for everything.
“I am really looking forward to it, but it must happen by next spring as that is pretty much their deadline as next door, they want to pave the back, but they can’t do that until the construction here is done, so there’s a lot of timing issues,” said Joly.
“If people were planning to donate, they should do that sooner than later, so that they can go ahead with everything,” he said. “It’s a great project and it’s an area that will also be able to be used by artists that are visiting the Regent Theatre to practice there.”
The see, savour and sip event included local wine and cider samplings as well as scrumptious cupcakes by Butter Dream Cakes and delicious eats by Purtelleigh’s Bakery, Karlyn’s Cookies and Lakeshore Farms that looked almost too lovely to eat.
A ‘spooktacular’ sleepy hollow after-dark creation by Gayle and Bob Osbourne of Hicks Funeral Home made for a superbly done, but very scary haunted house. Those who entered at their own peril were only allowed to leave once they had quoted a few lines of verse of their choice or by placing a few coins upon the palm of the mysterious hooded figure guarding the exit.
People were encouraged to pick up a pumpkin earlier in the week, to carve and return for a show and sale where attendees could bid on the eerie carvings.
The Picton branch library sees 3,400 visitors each month and the proposed modern expansion, doubling the existing size of the library, hopes to retain its historic values and unique character.
Detailed plans of the expansion project were on display with expansion project chair Alexandra Bake and committee members on hand to walk through the drawings, explain the designs and answer questions.
Bake said the ticket price of $50 was inclusive of the event’s fun on purpose, and any donation outside that was voluntary.
“So it was really just a night to have fun and enjoy yourself, engage with the library and recognize just how small it is and why we need the expansion and just to really provide a different way of looking at the library.”
Some $900,000 of the $2 million needed for the expansion has been provided through donations, efforts of the Friends of Picton library, bequests, a Prince Edward County municipal government investment and a John M. and Bernice Parrott Foundation grant.
A further $1.1 million is needed for the project, which currently sits at $1.34 million of its $2 million target.
Funds were also raised through the sale of original merchandise created especially for the event including limited-edition, signed and numbered posters and tee shirts designed by local artist Milé Murtanovski, as well as mugs by local graphic designer, Tim Snyder.
Upcoming events in support of the library expansion project continue and are planned through next year with the next event featuring Carol Off, of CBC Radio, at the end of November at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Picton.
Following is Art on the Shelf for three weekends during Wassail at Macaulay Museum. More than 30 artists have donated art work based on books or literary characters or literary themes and they will be for sale at that event.
There will also be a fundraiser at McDonald’s at the drive-through where they will be putting up boxes and also at the LCBO for a few weeks in November.
“Coming up next year, we are going to be having a fundraising event at the Drake Devonshire and we will also be doing another art show called DiscARTed and we’ve got some interesting lectures that we’ve been organizing. Of course, we will be doing County Reads again and the Authors’ Festival,” said Bake.
“We just keep coming up with different ways to engage the public for this expansion project and speak to them in ways that might be of interest to them,” she said.
Donations made to the new library building fund through the month of October are being matched by an anonymous donor up to $100,000.
“Wednesday is the 31st, but I have a good feeling, we are going to make it, so fingers crossed as that will certainly boost our funds,” said Sweet.
Financial contributions to the ‘Time to Renew’ project are welcome at any time and can be made at peclibrary.org/expansion.