New library design earns approval from community

‘You should be applauded for what you’ve done’

Published on April 3, 2014

TRURO – Overwhelming support for the design of the new Truro library was expressed during a recent public meeting.

About 70 people gathered on Thursday night to see updated floor and design plans for the new Colchester East Hants Public Library that will go in the old Normal College. The $7-million mostly brick-based facility is expected to open in November 2015.

“You have to think big … it will be an attraction,” said Truro’s Nancy Peters. The town “has made investments in sports, now it’s important to invest in a library.”  

Talbot Sweetapple, a co-owner of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects who is working on the new library, said the goal is to “try to maintain as much as the old Normal College as possible.”

Plans for the library include a community room, study room and furniture, project space and a children’s area on the main floor.

“The children’s area is a major upgrade … with windows that are (positioned) to their height,” said Sweetapple.

The second floor will hold a public circulation area, interconnected floor to overlook the first floor, community area, teen space and special function room.

The basement will be mostly used for storage and staff rooms.

An addition will be built on the Normal College and will include a children’s department, washrooms and program room on the first floor and the adult collection, fireplace, small storage space and washrooms on the second floor.

An elevator, atrium and a public park space are other features that interested people.

When asked by the public if there were any surprises during the interior gutting of the Normal College to make way for the new library, officials said there were only good surprises.

“The only surprise was how good of condition it’s in,” said L&R Construction’s Leo Rovers.

“The brick is in good shape and some will be kept,” added Truro Mayor Bill Mills.

Public feedback was mostly positive, with a round of applause from the crowd after the computer-generated visual presentation finished.

“You should be applauded for what you’ve done,” said Old Barns resident Sandra Dill. “This is beautiful.”

“I like this design. The old library is totally inadequate,” said Truro’s Frank Martel, who uses the library “practically every day.”

Martel did have one concern, however.

“They say there will be lots of parking. I’m interested to see how that will be implemented.”

The town’s director of planning, Jason Fox, confirmed at the meeting it’s expected there will be 20 less parking spaces in the library’s vicinity once construction is done.

Bible Hill’s Dianne Spears said she wasn’t fond of the modernized style of the add-on building.

“I’m not crazy about this new modern block on this heritage building. Is it necessary to have this space and finance wise?” she asked.

When asked about the expected lifespan of the new library, library director Janet Pelley said, “we are looking at the long term. It should serve for the next couple of decades with (room for) internal growth.”

Mills encouraged the public to consider being part of a community fundraising initiative for “incidentals, a reserve fund to look after the building, furniture” and more. He said more information will become available on fundraising ideas in the near future.

Mills added Colchester County has “signed off” on its contribution to the new library and the town is expected to sign off on its commitment during Monday’s monthly council meeting.

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