ST. MARY’S – After months of intermittent closures, Sherbrooke’s public library appears to have a new lease on life, with new hours, staff and even paint job.
In a press release on May 26, Laura Emery, CEO of the Eastern Counties Regional Library (ECRL) — which administers the branch along with eight others in northeastern mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton — stated that the Sherbrooke facility will open, effective immediately, as “new staff are busy training and looking forward to welcoming the community.”
She added, “The public is encouraged to visit and see how the Municipality [of the District of St. Mary’s] has refreshed and renovated the library space.”
The new arrangement will see the municipality invest an additional $6,000 per year — over and above its annual contribution of $18,800 — to augment openings by seven hours a week. That includes new times on Tuesday (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.; 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.) and Saturday (12:30 to 2:30 p.m.) on top of the existing Wednesday to Friday (12:30 to 5:30 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.) schedule.
“Additionally,” said St. Mary’s Chief Administrative Officer Marissa Jordan, in an email to The Journal on May 26, “the Municipality budgets approximately $19,000 for building maintenance per year.”
In the press release, ECRL Board Chair Clair Rankin said, “I would like to thank the Municipality … for their investment in public library service and the enhancement of the library facility. New paint, renovations to the exterior and interior, along with their additional financial support for increased library open hours, will help ECRL to better provide the service the community wants and needs.”
Added St. Mary’s Warden Greg Wier in the joint announcement: “On behalf of Municipality of District of St. Mary’s council, we thank ECRL for filling the vacant position at our library as quickly as possible. With the additional hours, we are hoping the needs of our Municipality will be met. Council is also looking forward to the Wi-Fi extender being installed so residents have increased access to free Internet services.”
The news follows months of uncertainty about the branch, which has been the centre of a dispute between ECRL and the municipality over funding and public opening hours since March 2021. Following an order earlier this year by the provincial Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism, and Heritage for the two to resolve their differences, the tiny facility — which had been unable to maintain permanent staff — has been open to the public only irregularly, and effectively shuttered since late April.
According to the release, the municipality requested the additional hours “to respond to community needs and ECRL was happy to work in partnership with them to make these changes. ECRL will also help support this improved scheduled by using unspent monies from the closure period for training costs and the additional open hours until the end of June.”