Stratford gets early Christmas present

Dave Stewart
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Ashley McCluskey-Douse, left, librarian assistant, and Carol Seguin, volunteer, pull some books from the stacks at the new library in Stratford. The library is located just off Hopeton Road, in the same building that used to be home to the provincial liquor store.

Expanded library opens in former liquor store building

STRATFORD — Residents of this town made it abundantly clear in a survey earlier this year that they wanted a bigger library.

So, town council went to work and agreed to rent space in the old liquor store for $65,000 a year. The town is leasing the space from businessman Ray Murphy, who owns the building, and paying for utilities. The public library service is providing staff and materials.

The new library opened its door just after Thanksgiving but the official opening, complete with provincial and municipal politicians, took place on Thursday.

“Libraries are one of the most important public spaces in any community and this is especially true in Stratford,’’ said Mayor David Dunphy.

In the past decade, the town’s library has seen the circulation grow from 18,453 items to 43,453 items per year and the number of library card holders has jumped from 440 to 1,557.

During the same time period, the number of programs has also grown, from 58 with 560 people attending to 560 programs with 4,733 people attending.

“People don’t realize it’s not just books. There are pre-school programs, programs for different ages. It’s not just books, it’s programs, it’s services, it’s all kinds of things,’’ the mayor said.

Coming up with programs that people want to invest time in takes creative staff members and Dunphy says Stratford has that in spades.

Jane McKinney, library assistant, said the dramatic increase in library usage in Stratford tells the story.

“Stratford as a community values its public library,’’ McKinney said. “They’ve been pushing for a bigger space, a more family-friendly space and I think we have it in this new location.’’

The old Stratford library was located at the Bunbury nursery.

McKinney said moving to the Stratford mall site gives the library visibility.

“It’s a wonderful location; easily accessible and visible from the four main streets. (It has) better parking. It’s just a wide open space.’’

McKinney noted that the Stratford numbers also show that people still enjoy reading the old fashioned way, by flipping actual pages.

“I know there have been studies saying newspapers and print would not still be around but I think that is being proven wrong,’’ she said.

Tourism Minister Robert Henderson, whose department is responsible for libraries, said more programs and services will help promote literacy in the community.

“The layout of the space drastically improves the experience for library users,’’ Henderson said. “It’s good to see demand grow (in Stratford).’’

The new space includes a new circulation desk and shelving which were provided by the town, computer work stations provided by the Friends of the Stratford Public Library, and a children’s space that includes a new computer work station, activity table, reading mat and chairs, all donated by the Rotary Club of Stratford. There is also a new programming room.

The public library service operates 26 locations across the province.

Organizations: Stratford Public Library, Rotary Club of Stratford

Geographic location: Stratford

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Recent comments

  • Evolution of The Library
    December 09, 2013 - 11:19

    Good work Stratford, but let's not rest on the past. A modern library should promote knowledge creation, not only knowledge consumption. Unlike the library services of the past that focused on the one-sided provision of resources, the modern library ought to be a space where patrons engage with information—process it, reflect on it, and develop new ideas, conversations, and opportunities as a result of it. Let's hope Stratford's libarary doesn't remain an outdated artifact, but rather evolves into a place that really enables life long learning.

  • W.Wilkins
    December 09, 2013 - 06:35

    This is a wonderful feature of Stratford. Our library is now visible, functional and staffed with competent volunteers and professionals. A great use of tax dollars; it's up to residents now to explore its full potential.

  • LCB
    December 09, 2013 - 05:35

    65,000 A YEAR????!!!!!!!! The rich get RICHER !!!!!!!

    December 08, 2013 - 12:53

    Congratulations to the Stratford Town Council for being forward thinking on their Library needs. To often Municipal officials e.g. Doug Ford (City of Toronto), past and present municipal officials of the city (which I will not name) I live in think of libraries as being a waste of money. Municipal officials don't realize the importance of libraries in their community. More people use libraries on a monthly/yearly basis than use the recreational facilities of a community yet more money of the taxpayers is spent on these recreational facilities than on libraries.