Council expected to approve new library in Chéticamp

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Inverness County is expected to approve plans for Chéticamp's first-ever library branch later today. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)
Inverness County is expected to approve plans for Chéticamp's first-ever library branch later today. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)

After receiving hardcover and paperback books by mail for years, a community in northern Cape Breton is set to receive its own library.

Inverness County is in the planning stages of developing a small branch of the Eastern Counties Regional Library in Chéticamp that will feature books in both English and French.

Coun. Alfred Poirier said other languages may be added to the list, including Arabic, as the area is home to a few Syrian families.

"We have so many people from different nationalities coming in," said Poirier. "It will be interesting once we have it settled, and we can sit down and have a look at it."

Alfred Poirier is the District 1 councillor of the Municipality of the County of Inverness.
Alfred Poirier is the District 1 councillor of the Municipality of the County of Inverness.(CBC)

The library will be located in the basement of the Commercial Centre on the Chéticamp waterfront.

The county's warden and council are expected to give the project its seal of approval later today.

Renovations required

The decision to fund a Chéticamp branch comes after Inverness County discovered it was not getting enough bang for its buck from an annual funding contribution to Eastern Counties Regional Library.

A board member of the public library system, Poirier said a $94,000 yearly contribution amounted to only about 70 per cent of services it should have been receiving.

Poirier said Inverness will be responsible for maintaining the rented space for the library, and will likely spend up to $15,000 on renovations to make the facility usable for such services.

"It's going to cost us to set it up," said Poirier. "The building is there, it's accessible and everything."

Library funding realignment

The discrepancy in service provided to Inverness County was uncovered in funding realignment process for the 2021-22 budget year, said Laura Emery, CEO of Eastern Counties Regional Library.

As it moves forward, library opening hours will correspond to the area's population and tax base.

"There's a lot of excitement, a lot of concern too," said Emery. "It's very important for people to have bilingual service in that community and that's certainly something we're in support of."

Coun. Alfred Poirier says the proposed location of the Chéticamp library is in the basement of the Commercial Centre on the village's waterfront.
Coun. Alfred Poirier says the proposed location of the Chéticamp library is in the basement of the Commercial Centre on the village's waterfront.(Erin Pottie/CBC)

Emery said plans are to feature basic material for teens, children, large print for seniors, along with DVDs and audiobooks.

"It's always a cause for celebration in this day and age of, you know, terrible fiscal restraints and responsibilities to have the opportunity to create a new space for books, and community and reading," she said.

But it's not all good news, as Emery says their recent funding realignment has resulted in the scaling back of services in other communities. For example, the library in Guysborough will see hours drop from 25 to 15 hours a week.

Emery said plans are to open the Chéticamp library in two to three months, with the service operating up to 30 hours per week.

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