Your Community Owned Newspaper
Thursday, February 24, 2011 • 9
Scugog public library and community are ‘Growing Together’ TRACEY COVEART The Standard
Can you envision a community without a library? I can’t. Some of my earliest and best memories centre around the Brookbanks Public Library, my local library growing up. And it wasn’t just about the books. It was about stimulation, growth, human connection and adventure. It was at the Brookbanks Public Library that I met my first lion cub and that single encounter shaped my life. People have been meeting and reading and growing at the library in Port Perry for more than 150 years, since 1856 when The Mechanics’ Institute opened its doors at the corner of Queen St. and Rosa St. It was a place where members - not women, of course - could meet and discuss mathematical and scientific theories. The public was allowed limited access, at designated times. The Mechanics’ Institute moved several times over the next 25 years before lack of funding forced it to close down. The collection was sold off by the wheelbarrowload. It must have been a sad day for the people of Port Perry. But they didn’t mope for long. In less than 10 years the community had rallied to establish another library, this one on the second floor of a building at the corner of Queen St. and Perry St. It was the The Women’s Christian Temperance Union that opened this Reading Room, with its collection of newspapers and donated books that were for enjoyment on the premises only. Lack of space forced a move in 1917, this time to the old post office building at the corner of Queen St. and John St. After years of lobbying, the building was demolished in 1934 to make way for a new, permanent and purpose-built library that would allow for future growth. The War Memorial Library on Queen St. officially opened on May 24, 1935, with former Scugog residents Lieutenant Governor Herbert A. Bruce and Major-General James MacBrien presiding. The population of Scugog was about 2,000. The library - with its Book of Remembrance to honour the soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War - was 2,364 square feet and had 3,500 books in its collection. The township was growing and so was the library, but the flooding of the adjacent bowling green made it impossible to expand. A new site was selected - on the waterfront, an issue that caused considerable
controversy and triggered an Ontario Municipal Board hearing. Construction began in 1981. The new 6,000 square foot library opened its doors to the public on May 29, 1982, at 231 Water St. The population of Scugog had grown to 12,000 and the library collection to 21,000 items. Today, Scugog is home to more than 20,000 people and the Scugog Memorial Public Library (SMPL) has 47,000 items on its shelves. And the library is growing again.
new library will be an even greater place to make connections with family, friends, neighbours and cultures around the world. “As our society becomes more nuclear,” said Ms. Caughlin, “we are losing that meeting place where members of the community can interact, make connections and learn life skills. Our library embraces its new role of community hub and provides a safe, comfortable and inviting environment where the community can explore interests,
But this time, it won’t have to move. And when the doors open later this spring on the renovated and expanded 16,000 square foot facility, it will be a spectacular place to connect, enjoy, relax and learn. “As our society becomes more dependent on technology, people wonder what will happen to libraries in the future,” said SMPL CEO Amy Caughlin. “Happily, public libraries have managed to keep up with the times and serve their communities in so many ways that they have even more to offer than they have in the past.” The SMPL is no exception, promoting literacy, lifelong learning, enrichment and serving as a communal and an integral part of the community. “Our library provides materials that will allow customers of all ages and life stages to expand their knowledge and explore cultural and personal landscapes through a variety of media, books, audiobooks, music, software, film and art.” And with wireless access, public computer stations and meeting rooms, the
master technology, meet friends and attend programs and events for people of all ages and interests. In 2009, SMPL customers borrowed almost 180,000 items - books, movies, music and magazines, making almost 126,000 library visits. More than 12,000 people used the library’s public Internet workstations and more than 2,000 used the library’s wireless Internet service to get their laptops on-line. Some 415 programs attracted participation from almost 8,500 adults and children. And a remarkable 68 per cent of the population of Scugog Township - 15, 394 people - have a library card.
Libraries have a tremendous impact on their communities, said Ms. Caughlin. “Even in these tough economic times, the return on investment in public library services and programs is high.” According to studies in Canada and the US, by enhancing quality of life, increasing property values, attracting new business, fostering literacy, introducing new technologies, supporting local arts and culture, providing space for positive interaction for children and youth, helping people secure employment, providing access to global information and fostering a sense of community, “libraries contribute the equivalent of $4 of economic stimulation for ever dollar spent in funding their operation,” Ms. Caughlin said. The Waterfront Revitalization Project which includes the library expansion - received an infusion of $10.3 million, but more is needed to ensure that the library remains a vital resource for the Scugog community. One of the conditions of the grant is a community contribution. “Through generous donations from the community, the Library Capital Campaign has already raised more than $500,000,” said Ms. Caughlin. “The final push is now underway to raise $250,000 to pay for new books, computers, furnishings and equipment. “This is your library,” Ms. Caughlin continued. “When you invest in it you invest in the community and the future. Your donation will help to ensure that our library and our community are ‘Growing Together’ today for a strong and vital tomorrow.” ‘Buy a Bookshelf’ pledge forms (see the back of this page) can be dropped off at the library in its current location at the Scugog Arena (1655 Reach St.) or mailed to Scugog Memorial Public Library, P.O. Box 1049, Port Perry, Ontario L9L 1A8. For more information about the Capital Fundraising Campaign and the library expansion project, contact Amy Caughlin, CEO, at 905985-7686 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 • Thursday, February 24, 2011
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