For several months Denise Corey has watched the new library in Pugwash has taken shape, knowing years of planning will come to fruition in a new modern facility to replace an older building that no longer met the needs of the community.
That wait is set to end on Monday when the $2.198-million library will open its doors to the public.
“I’m so excited for the people in this community,” the chief librarian of the Cumberland Public Libraries said. “I’m very excited for people to be able to come in and look at this space and spend time here. It’s going to be an excellent space for people to come and just hang out.”
Work on the 3,900-square-foot building began earlier this year when the Municipality of Cumberland announced plans to build the library that will replace the existing facility located in the former Pugwash train station since 1988.
Iron Maple Constructors and its sub-contractors recently finished their work and library staff have been working way for several weeks to put the collection in place and ready everything for opening day.
Project manager Roger MacIsaac is excited to see the final product.“A year ago, this project was just a concept that had existed for four or five years. It’s gone from that concept to reality,” MacIsaac said. “It really is a credit to Iron Maple. They were great to work with and despite a few hiccups along the way they always came up with solutions to get the project completed with the community in mind. It’s something they can be very proud of.”
The former library facility in the old train station has been closed since early December, but the community has still been able to access library services through books by mail and other programs.
“There’s something about being able to go into the library, and browse and use the collection,” Corey said. “It’s also a place to interact with staff and other community members. I feel this is going to be a real community hub.”
While one of the smaller libraries in the seven-branch library system, Corey said the former library was one of the busiest. She expects those numbers to grow in the new building, adding the library serves much more than Pugwash but its users extend along the Northumberland Strait area, especially in summer, and all the way to the Oxford area.
One of the things that impress Corey the most is its accessibility – something the old library was not.
“We’ve gone from having the least accessible library in the county to having the most accessible library,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing people come in who couldn’t before because they were wheelchair users or had mobility issues that prevented them from using the old library because there simply wasn’t enough room.”
Corey is very complimentary of the commitment made by the municipality, Mayor Murray Scott, Coun. Jennifer Houghtaling as well as the fundraising group that set out last summer to raise the money for the community portion and surpassed their goal in near record time.
“That says a lot about this community’s desire to have a new library,” Corey said. “We now have a library that will serve Pugwash and area for many years and provide a lot more opportunities and programs we couldn’t before because we didn’t have the space at the old library.”
Houghtaling said she can’t wait to see the community’s reaction to the new building.“It has been over 10 years of community meetings discussing a new library for Pugwash for myself, and for others, it has been much longer,” she said. “I am so very grateful to the staff, mayor and my fellow councillors who made this a priority and moved it to the top of the list for my community.”
Houghtaling said the beautiful space and sunny nooks where people can enjoy a good book will be cherished by everyone and it could not have happened without the many dedicated volunteers who put so much effort into making sure this came to be.
“I have recently had several calls and emails about individuals and families who are considering Pugwash for their forever home due to the new library and hospital and the sense of community,” Houghtaling said. “As everyone will realize as they walk through the doors, this gathering space will welcome all and be the heart of our beautiful village for many years to come. Thank you to all of those who made this a reality. I truly hope everyone makes the trip to visit the Pugwash Library, it is a reason to pick up a good book!”
One of the features of the new library is a program room that will be used for various library events such as book clubs and activities for people both young and old. It will also be available to the community and Corey is already hearing of organizations wanting to book the room.
While the library is ready for opening, she said there are a few items left to be worked on.
“We’re having a soft opening because we didn’t want to be closed any longer,” she said. “We would rather have people come in with it not being perfect as opposed to being able to access it. We believe people are really going to embrace it, they’re going to be excited.”
Corey said the collection, while not as large as the old library’s collection at first, is mostly new books less than two years old from some of the most popular authors.
An official opening will be held this summer during HarbourFest in late July.