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Cornwall library thriving, bringing community together

Cornwall Mayor Minerva McCourt, left, and the town’s librarian, Pam Wheatley, are pleased the library is becoming a more inclusive space for everyone.  ©THE GUARDIAN
Cornwall Mayor Minerva McCourt, left, and the town’s librarian, Pam Wheatley, are pleased the library is becoming a more inclusive space for everyone. ©THE GUARDIAN - Katie Smith

Pam Wheatley believes a library is more than just a place to borrow books – she believes it’s a place where a community comes together.

Wheatley said the Cornwall Public Library, where she works as the librarian, has been thriving.

The facility has introduced some new items to help it become a more inclusive space for people of all ages and learning abilities, she said.

“We’re pretty busy downstairs, there’s a lot going on,” she said during a presentation at an April 18 Cornwall town council meeting. “We’re still working on our goals, which are to promote literacy and make this a community gathering place, because that’s what we want to be – we want to be the place to go.”

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Library fast facts for 2017:

- 5,300 people have Cornwall library cards

- 350 programs were offered and attended by 4,736 children and adults

- 1,058 computer bookings

- 48,345 books, DVDs, CDs, magazines and other materials were checked out

- 108 children registered in the library’s 2017 TD Summer Reading Program; 90 activities were held and attended by 862 children

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Earlier this month, P.E.I. Public Libraries launched new sensory kits at all locations across the Island, and Wheatley was excited to show council what they were all about.

Launched in partnership with the Department of Education and non-profit organizations such as the Autism Society of P.E.I., the kits help calm, soothe and relax people affected by autism, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, dementia and other sensitivities. They are now available at all Island libraries.

Cornwall Mayor Minerva McCourt said the sensory kits are a welcome addition to the library and said there seems to be a need for them.

“I went in the day it came out and it had already been booked out, there’s a huge demand.”

RELATED: P.E.I. libraries want to keep kids reading

The library has also added some equipment that can be rented out, including a telescope and snowshoes, and has started Escape Rooms, Wheatley said, adding the participants aren’t actually locked in the library.

“We started a Jane Austen escape room, so everybody comes in and participates. We set up a group and they solve the clues, unlock the boxes and see if they can do it in under an hour,” she said. “It uses critical thinking skills.”
McCourt is proud of the continuous changes and upgrades the library has seen and credits its success to Wheatley.

“I can’t say enough good things about our library and about our librarian,” she said. “She seems to think outside the box and is always trying to accommodate.”

She’s loved by community members young and old, she said.

“The thing about Pam is she’s friendly, she’s welcoming and nothing is a problem (for her),” she said. “It’s amazing the work she’s done down there with all the different groups of people.”

Like Wheatley, McCourt said the space is more than a library.

“It’s a community,” she said. “It brings people together.”

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