Plans move forward to transform Dorset Library
|By Joseph Quigley - Staff Writer | Dec. 25, 2018|
Algonquin Highlands council is pushing forward with budgeting to turn the Dorset Library into a multi-functional community hub.
Council voted unanimously during its Dec. 13 meeting to direct staff to include costs for the transition in its upcoming draft budget. The motion came after a discussion on the future of the library and a review of the results of a community survey. The online survey, which asked residents for their views on the library, had about 59 per cent of 134 respondents vote in favour of transitioning the space under township management.
The Dorset Library, located within the Dorset Recreation Centre, has been struggling with low circulation, Mayor Carol Moffatt said. The library is currently open eight hours a week, whereas the proposed community hub would be open 40 or more hours a week, according to the survey.
“The big decision is to move forward. Moving forward is not written in stone,” Moffatt said during the meeting, adding council will have more discussions with staff and committees about what the hub might look like. “Just keep it, dare I say, an open book.”
Although the specifications of the hub are not finalized, the township has proposed using book drop services in the new space. The service would be run by township staff and allow residents to order books for delivery online through the county library system.
Danielsen said there has been friction with the Haliburton County Public Library Board over taking this step.
“I see it as an enhancement … I feel a bit bad about saying this, but I feel the library board has, to some extent, put their heads in the sand,” Danielsen said. “They don’t want to be responsible for making this decision.”
She later said the board has worked hard towards improving the situation at the Dorset Library.
“They have done, in my estimation, everything they possibly can as a board. They would prefer not to do this, but it has been thrown into our laps and here we are,” she said.
Library board chair Nancy McLuskey said in an email there has not been a board motion to close the branch.
“The current discussion is being driven by Algonquin Highlands seeking to achieve the best possible use of the property as is there prerogative,” she said.
Coun. Jennifer Dailloux said she is a huge proponent of libraries and questioned the limitations of the survey, such as not having a clearer idea on how different demographics were voting.
However, Dailloux said she was heartened by the township commitment to keep providing residents access to books and would support the multipurpose hub with that in mind.
“If we can hold ourselves accountable to making sure the spirit of booking does not die and come up with some really innovative ways of making sure folks have access to other libraries,” she said.
The survey said possibilities for the hub could include providing a new reception area, moving four computers in, providing a lounge area and additional programming.
“This is not about the library board is leaving and therefore there’s bad people closing the library,” Moffatt said. “It’s the library board is going but look at what you’re getting in exchange.”