Sundridge, Kearney libraries seek public support to help win improvement grants

Two libraries in Almaguin are hoping they are among the Ontario libraries picked under a grants program that promotes and supports education and community engagement.

The applicants are the Kearney and Area Public Library and the Sundridge-Strong Union Public Library.

Their respective head librarians have applied to the Commonwell LEAF initiative which will spread $300,000 to community projects in Ontario that have a long-term impact.

Each applicant is allowed to request between $10,000 to $50,000.

The Commonwell is an amalgamation between three legacy mutual insurance companies and one of its initiatives was creating the LEAF program in 2021 where recipients use their grant to create upgrades or retrofits at their sites and also enhance their local programming.

In the case of the Sundridge-Strong library, CEO Melinda Kent says the local library needs to upgrade its computers, tablets, early literacy station and other existing technology.

Kent says the library is a place for community engagement and keeping its technology current is “extremely imperative.”

Kent adds by updating and expanding the library's technology, the facility will give residents “more opportunities to use equipment and resources they would not otherwise have access to.”

The library is located in the Village of Sundridge which Kent says has access to fibre optic internet service.

But she points out not all residents who live in the outlying townships of Strong and Joly have access to reliable internet.

Kent says by keeping the library technology current, the area's residents including those who stay at their seasonal cottages during the summer have a place they can visit that has reliable internet services.

Kent says at less than 1,000 square feet, the Sundridge-Strong Union Public Library may be small in terms of physical space but it's big on the services it offers to the area.

She adds it's “the heart and hub of our rural community” but right now there's a “tremendous need to update the technology.”

Although both libraries have applied for the grant, as part of the criteria to decide who gets one of the grants the Commonwell considers how much community support there is for the applications.

Kent says the Commonwell will assess the applications based on the impact the project has on local learning, how it engages the community and is there community support for it.

To support one or both of the Almaguin projects go online to https://thecommonwell.ca/leaf#wpsl-wrap and scroll down to the “support a project” section of the page where the names of the applicants can be found on the search results.

Local supporters are looking for “Kearney and Area Public Library new computers project” and right below this is the “Revitalizing Our Technology and Makerspacers” for the Sundridge-Strong library.

All people need to do is hit the “add your support” button.

The public has until Nov. 15 to give their support to the Almaguin library projects.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget