© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
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.