Report recommending small library closures raises concerns

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The Shetland Library in Dawn-Euphemia is one of the branches a consultant says is too small and not accessible to everyone

A consultant’s recommendation that some of Lambton’s smaller libraries be closed or merged with others is drawing some concern.

Lambton County councillors recently got a first look at a study of the area’s libraries.

Anand Desai of Monteith Brown Planning Consultants said many of Lambton’s libraries are located in buildings which were not first libraries and are undersized. He pointed to the Shetland Library as an example. And, Desai says, many libraries don’t meet current accessibility standards and can’t provide a full range of services because they’re undersized.

Desai suggested Shetland be closed and replaced with an “express library service point.”

The report also calls for the service points in Port Lambton and Wilkesport.
The suggestions raised concerns on social media.

“How much was spent (on the consultant) which could’ve gone into those smaller libraries to keep them open?” said Bob Bressette who added the consultant was only making recommendations.

“They don’t have to be put into motion. I recommend the County of Lambton to not close these satellites for the betterment of the communities in which they serve.”

Others said they loved their little libraries because of the people who work there. “Half the reason we go to our library is because our librarian is amazing. She makes programs that are interesting to us and is super helpful when my kids get interested in weird thing,” said Melissa Lussier.

While the county is in charge of programming and staffing at Lambton libraries, each municipality owns the buildings they are housed in. The communities are responsible for the upkeep of the buildings.

Dawn-Euphemia Mayor Al Broad recognizes the Shetland Library is small and not accessible to everyone in the community. “We know we’ve got a bit of a problem there. To have it fully accessible, with no barriers, that will be very difficult to do with a small building like that.”

Broad says it would likely only happen if the township could purchase land to expand the building. He says they have been talking to local landowners, but so far, there has not been a deal.

Broad adds the municipality invested $2 million in the Florence Community centre several years ago and it is one of the newest libraries in the county.
Dawn-Euphemia council is expected to review the consultants report and talk about what could be done in the future.