When planning was underway for Pugwash’s new library, Cumberland County’s regional librarian knew it would be a hit.To quote to the movie, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”
“I never doubted it for a moment. We knew how much a new library was needed and the numbers show it,” Denise Corey, chief librarian of the Cumberland Public Libraries, said.“In the first three weeks we had close to 1,600 people through the door and it hasn’t slowed down any since then. I don’t know the population of Pugwash off the top of my head, but I know it’s less than that. It shows what the library means to the area.”
After years of planning, the Municipality of Cumberland decided last year to move forward with the project, committing approximately $1.7 million to the $2.198-million price tag.The community raised nearly $600,000 and the library opened in early February. From opening day on Feb. 5, hundreds of people have been flowing in to use the facility.
“We were told all along the library in Pugwash would be a well-used facility and it’s no surprise to us to see how busy it has been since opening in February,” Municipality of Cumberland Mayor Murray Scott said, adding the municipality had been looking at various options for several years.“We knew that for many years there was lots of talk about what the facility would look like and as people came and went it changed several times. We, as a council, decided it was time to build it. The decision was made that the community really needed this library and let’s just build it.It’s a great addition to the community. We’re very proud of it.”
Corey said the number of people coming into the library shows its reach goes beyond the village into the surrounding areas of northern Cumberland County.Looking back to pre-COVID in April 2019, approximately 800 people used the library.
“We have more than doubled in most months the number of people walking through the door and it’s mainly because they can come in and sit down and do so many things they couldn’t do in the old library,” Corey said.
Corey said there are teachers bringing their classes to the facility to introduce them to the library, while care workers are able to bring clients in from nearby Sunset Community. There are two book clubs and a knitting club that meets each Tuesday after spending several years meeting at the homes of members.
One of the reasons for the increased numbers is the building’s accessibility. Another factor is space. At 3,900 square feet, it’s much larger than the former library in the old train station.
“Their group went from eight people to 16 and they’re in the library knitting every Tuesday morning,” Corey said.
The community room, something the former library didn’t have, has become very popular with everything from the Pugwash yacht club to the Pugwash Farmers Market and Communities in Bloom using the room for meetings.
As busy as the library is now, Corey expects it to get very busy soon with the arrival of cottagers and other visitors to the north shore
.“It also has air conditioning, so on a hot day we expect people to visit the library to cool off,” Corey said. “It’s a library that has everything.”
She also believes the facility will be even more attractive to visitors once the landscaping is completed before summer and the Pugwash Open Air Gallery’s latest mural is put in place on the south wall of the building facing the harbour and the bridge entering the village.
Corey expects the building to get busier later this year when the Municipality of Cumberland opens an office there.
The library’s hours have also been increased, operating 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The official opening for the library will be on Saturday, July 29 as part of HarbourFest.