A project many years in the making was celebrated on Saturday, July 29, 2023, with the official opening of the new $2.198-million library in the Pugwash.
Several dozen Pugwash and area residents joined with staff from Cumberland Public Libraries and representatives from the Municipality of Cumberland, the provincial government and the Pugwash Library fundraising committee in cutting the ribbon to officially open the library that opened its doors in early February.
Municipality of Cumberland Deputy Mayor Mark Joseph and Pugwash Library fundraising committee co-chair Dennice Leahey cut the ribbon to officially open the new $2.198-million library while District 3 Coun. Jennifer Houghtaling (left) and Cumberland Public Libraries chief librarian Denise Corey hold the ribbon. Darrell Cole – Municipality of Cumberland photo
“Beyond its physical presence here in Pugwash, it is our hope that the library will be a welcoming space for all members of the community; a hub for cultural exchange and a place where people can come together to share ideas and pursue their passions,” Municipality of Cumberland Deputy Mayor Mark Joseph said.
“From children taking their first steps into the world of literature, to seniors engaging in lifelong learning, the Pugwash Cumberland Public Library aims to cater to the diverse needs of our community, fostering personal growth and community development.”
The deputy mayor said the municipality contributed $1.6 million to the project and acknowledged the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for its contribution of $111,709 as well as the work of the Pugwash Library fundraising committee that raised in excess of $500,000 toward the project.
“This library is a symbol of our collective investment in the future,” the deputy mayor said.
He also acknowledged the work of contractor Iron Maple Constructors.
Speaking on behalf of the fundraising committee, Dennice Leahey said their efforts were made easier because of the need for new quarters for the library.
“We are very grateful to the over 200 donors to the library,” Leahey said. “It takes a community to build a library and it takes a community to make it successful.”
She also recognized the family of the late Betty Bird Murray, the daughter of First World War veteran and esteemed Canadian author Will R. Bird for making the lead donation toward the campaign.
The community room in the library is named in her honour.
Cumberland Public Libraries chief librarian Denise Corey said a lot of work over a lot of years went into making Pugwash’s new library a reality.
“This is a building, but it’s a lot more than a building. It’s a space for our community. It’s a place that is open for everyone and it’s welcoming and friendly,” Corey said.
In the former location at the historic train station, the library would get about 800 visitors a month during its busiest periods. She said more than 2,000 people visited the new library in July alone.
Hants East MLA John A. MacDonald attended on behalf of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage Minister Pat Dunn.
“Libraries provide access to vital knowledge, but they also play an important role in enhancing our quality of life, local economies and overall health and wellbeing of people and communities,” MacDonald said. “Libraries are some of the province’s most crucial pieces of community infrastructure. They serve as gathering places, learning places and are an essential service to the community.”
While unable to attend, Gudi Hutchings, the federal minister responsible for ACOA, praised the work of the community and its partners in making the new library a reality.
“The old notion of libraries as silent, solemn places is gone,” the minister said in remarks that were read on her behalf. “Today, libraries are vibrant community gathering spaces where people of all ages and abilities can engage, learn, discover, and explore.