Reasons unclear for Sherbrooke Library closures

·2 min read

ST. MARY’S— Citing privacy, the CEO of Eastern Counties Regional Library (ECRL) is refusing to disclose the reasons why she closed the Sherbrooke branch on the very days its hours had been set to expand earlier this month.

“At most ECRL locations, staff members work alone,” Laura Emery told The Journal in an email last week. “If an individual is unable to attend work, the library must close. To protect the privacy of our employees, [we do] not comment publicly on these closures.”

The notification, “Sherbrooke Public Library will be closed” on the successive Thursdays of June 2 and June 9, appeared on both ECRL’s and the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s websites, with no further explanation, just hours before the respective shut downs.

In April, ECRL announced it would extend its Thursday afternoon hours from 12:30-3 p.m. to 12:30-6 p.m. (Thursday morning openings of 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m., and Wednesday and Friday openings of 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m. and 12:30-3 p.m. remained unchanged).

At the time Emery said, “This provides after school and after work opportunities for library use,” adding: “Now that all our municipal partners, along with all municipalities across the province, are contributing more to library funding, ECRL is turning that increased funding around to increased library service in the respective geographic regions.”

Last week, she said, “Unfortunately, ECRL does not have sufficient funding to hire enough people to prevent a library from ever closing.”

In an email to the Journal, St. Mary’s Warden Greg Wier said he was not given cause for the closures. “We receive[d] notification of closure with no reason,” he stated, adding: “The closures were not facility related … Nothing wrong with the building.”

St. Mary’s Council and ECRL are embroiled in a dispute over funding and hours of operation at the Sherbrooke Library. The two came to came to loggerheads earlier this year when council questioned ECRL’s demand for 60 per cent more money—from $17,000 to $27,600 in yearly fees—to keep the branch open to the public 25 hours a week.

Then matter is under review by the department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage.

Regarding the recent— and any future—disruption of service, Emery said last week, “We advise community members to call and confirm the library will be open before travelling to an ECRL location.”

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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