New library site?

Harry Sullivan
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Many feel this old Truro building has potential to be just that

New library site?

TRURO - A former hat factory building is being considered as a potential site for a new regional library.
"Right now, we seem to have the OK of the library board to pursue discussions," Mayor Bill Mills said, regarding the former Truro Bowling Lanes at the corner of Prince and Court streets.
"It looks pretty good," he said. "We just have to enter into some discussions and see what the bottom line is going to be."
The building was once part of the Lewis Hat Factory facility and has served as a warehouse for a moving and storage company and later as a bowling alley. In recent years, it has been used for storage.
Although the building would require extensive renovations to convert it into modern library space, one positive aspect of the site is that it basically fits the configuration and specifications recommended in a consultant's report prepared for the town in 2007.
The existing library, constructed in 1968, consists of 16,000 sq. ft. while a layout consisting of 34,054 sq. ft. was recommended for the new facility.
"They fit that building, ironically enough," Mills said, of the building specifications at the proposed site. "So that means all that work and the study that we did with the consultants won't go to waste."
The site was actually given consideration by the library board in 1997 and following a recent meeting its members were "quite enthusiastic" at the prospect it offers, he said.
Library director Janet Pelley said while it is too early in the process to break down the pros and cons of the site, the library revitalization committee is open to considering all available options.
"I think it has great potential if it turned out to be affordable for all parties," she said, while adding, however, that "a lot more discussion and exploration" are required before any final decisions are made.
Mills said the consultant's report estimated building a new library could cost between $9 million and $13 million, with time and escalating construction costs factored in.
"We want to sit down and look at, based on the consultant's report, what a new library will cost (to build)," he said, compared to what it would cost to lease the former bowling alley/warehouse, which is owned by the Snook Group.
Mills said the town will also have to consider how the library project will impact on other town initiatives and what funding might be available, whether through federal programs or regional users, such as the Municipality of Colchester.
"It will have to go through budget, so there will be nothing decided for sure until April 1st," he said.
What is not in question, however, is the need for a new resource facility.
"Hopefully, help is on the way for the library staff," Mills said. "They are pretty cramped and the building is in bad shape. So, either way, we're going to have to do something."
In addition to requiring a new roof at the existing library, Pelley said, the boiler, which was installed when the facility was built some 42 years ago, also needs to be replaced. Some of the carpeting is also original, she said, and the community room on the lower level is experiencing signs of dampness.
"It could be a major problem, we don't know."
Whatever decision is made regarding a new facility, however, remaining in the existing library is not a long-term option.
"We're pleased to be discussing this with the town," Pelley said.

Organizations: Snook Group

Geographic location: Prince, Colchester

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Recent comments

  • Big Chris
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Do we really need a new library? As a twenty something who has been living back in Truro for two years I feel that there is less going on in Truro than ever. Is a new library going to encourage young people to stay in the Truro area?... I don't think. The Truro Mall seems to have a hard time keeping shops, night life in the area is less than exciting and downtown Truro only has a few retailers worth mentioning. Truro is a nice safe place to live but unless more emphisis is placed on fun stuff to do for the younger population it will continue to be a challenge to get them to stay in the area.
    I have not been in the library for some time and don't know anyone in my age group who regularly visits the library. Both the NSCC and AC have there own libraries. I think there are plenty of books, but there is not much to do around here in the evening. Turning the old building back into a bowling alley may actually be of more use.

  • Joan
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Humm...I agree with a few comments here, I think the building should be new. 'Chris' it's important to note that 1) this article isn't about rejuvenating Truro to attract young people, it's about getting a much-needed new public library space. 2)NSCC and AC have academic libraries which focus on meeting the academic needs of their students; this is different from a public library which focuses on meeting the wants and needs of the general public. Also, I dont think either of those libraries would have the budget or space needed to adequately offer library service to an entire town, theyre not set up for that.

    I don't doubt the fact that we need a new library, or that libraries and books in print will be around for a long time (yes, technology is great, but it doesn't have to replace the written word). Not sure about anyone else, but after staring at a computer screen all day at work, I dont want to come home and snuggle up to another screen to read a novel.
    I think it'd be a better idea to tear down the old building and use the site to build a new building.

  • Mark
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    This is rare for the TDN comment zone: debate that is both passionate and rational. Nice.

    There is a lot of merit to pursuing this idea. The current building is not expandable and really detracts from the civic square. There is nothing greener than re-using an existing vacant structure. That building and area could really use some sprucing up.

    A modern library is more of a civic centre than even the proposed wellness centre that sports the name. That project can be great, but will have no space to become a library too. A library can be a gathering place, a site for life-long learning, and repository of knowledge and heritage in artefact form.

  • Rob
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Maybe 'Big Chris' should visit a library more frequently and learn how to spell emphasis .. While I see his points, I also do not think there will ever be a full electronic replacement for holding a written work in your hand. It would be sad if so. I do question spending gobs of money renovating structure that is older than the current one.... I think money could be better spent elsewhere. If money is earmarked for a new library then it should be a NEW building. Reno costs typically exceed start from scratch construction due to all of the hidden nightmares and the cobbling to try to make something fit an application for which it was never intended.....

  • Flip
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    When the power goes out - how does one read a computer?

  • Ruth
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Does that make sense? Renovate a building that is a lot older than our existing library??? Renovate and build on to the present one.

  • flogger
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    I am having a problem wrapping my head around the idea of doubling the size of a library in this age of technology. If I'm not mistaken, we can now download books on the new IPad; going forward, is the younger generation even going to use a library of this size? I would think libraries, like newspapers, are becoming obsolete, hence my musings on an on-line version of a newspaper. Case in point.

  • c
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    this is a good idea. we need to get that eyesore off the street anyways.

  • Jason
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    There is lots of space to reno the old library instead of the old bowling alley... I say just add a wing to this new civic centre. Isn't it suppose to be where all the goings on happen ? May as well add the library to it's plan... at least it will be new and modern vs. reno old decrepit buildings. But I do agree something needs to be done with that old bowling alley. Indoor skate park perhaps?

  • Charlotte
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    It's obvious from the comments that some people don't know what a modern library is like. It is certainly not all about books and it hasn't been for a long time.
    They are becoming more like a community resource center, where you can take classes, hold meetings, hang out with friends, drink a coffee and read the newspaper. Books are only one part of what makes a modern library so great.

  • V
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    flogger I agree somewhat -- but I sure don't want to sit and scroll through a 800 page novel on a screen -- or pay to print it to read.

    Books and reading books will never go out of style. Technology is great but it'll never give readers that curl up and cuddle with a good book feeling !

    Realistically -- Truro is well under the employment rate and average incomes compared to the rest of N.S. That $50 a month high speed Internet account or IPhone/iPad on on a 3-year cellular lock in subscription isn't going to be affordable for everyone anyway.

  • Sarah
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    The current library is too small and always busy. It's hard to find a place to sit because all the tables are full. It's worse now that people take up whole tables with their laptops. They need more computers for the public (you always have to wait) and I want to be able to check out my own books like they do in Halifax. Maybe if they have a bigger building it won't be so bad.

  • cici
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    YA!! YA!! It`s about time--& what better spot then the eyesore that was the old bowling alley.

  • Aline
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    A a former employee of the Truro library I can tell you that a new building is long overdue and preferably something new although it would be interesting to see the plan for the proposed bowling alley conversion - it may be ok, I disagree with people who think libraries are not relevant today. Public libraries in particular have evolved over the years to meet the needs of a generation accustomed to the internet. One of the reasons to build a new library is to increase the space for computer terminals. Libraries are centers of self-learning and are even more important now during a time of economic strife. It isn't just a book - its the whole world