Dalkeith library members won’t go away silently and North Glengarry council members heard a lot about it Monday.
Friends of the Library spokesperson Brenda Noble presented an idea to keep the last publicly-owned Dalkeith building open, viable, and accessible to citizens who rely on it for more than just books.
“We can use it for a crafts market, a small café, an art gallery and a book exchange,” says Noble. “We already have people prepared to donate hundreds of books and many who are prepared to volunteer. We just ask that you help with very little money.”
The Dalkeith, Morewood and St. Andrews West libraries were recently shut down due to high costs. The books have been taken away, the librarians fired, garbage bags hung over the library signs and patrons electronically contacted informing them that books can still be dropped off at these locations.
According to SD&G (Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry) library chair Bill McGimpsey, the cost was just too much for taxpayers, most of which he said at previous meetings, do not use the libraries.
“Taxes and insurance are non-issues as they wouldn’t change,” said Noble who recently spoke with North Glengarry building inspector Gerry Murphy about different aspects.
“That leaves the hydro and building maintenance, which is about $13,000 earmarked for 2016, though so far only $6,200 has been spent.”
Noble and many users would like to see the library stay open at least a few hours a week.
“We have a large volunteer base,” claims Noble of the small Dalkeith hamlet that had Ontario’s most easterly library. “We can use the library as a community center, hosting talks on home repairs and genealogy to name a few.”
Another underused Dalkeith building is the community centre and the old church that has recently become the home of the Dalkeith Historical Society.
Some councilors asked why these other facilities couldn’t work as a book exchange.
“The community hall is damp and has no shelves,” claims Noble. “And the church has no facilities and no heat.”
On behalf of the Dalkeith Friends of the Library, Noble requested that the 2017 North Glengarry budget include money to pay the expenses to keep the branch open.
“Our goal is to apply for community and senior grants and be self-sufficient by 2018,” states Noble who adds that privatization of the three libraries seems to be the only way to keep them going.
“You must understand that a community without life soon dies and Dalkeith is close to a ghost town right now. Let’s try and keep part of it alive.”
North Glengarry mayor Chris McDonell agreed but points out that the community must look after the expenses.
“We need support on your part,” says McDonell. “We’ll take care of it as we have for many years.”
Noble is grateful that so many residents have offered to volunteer and hopes that others will come forward to help keep one of the last remaining services in Dalkeith vibrant.