Dorset library trying new model
|By Lisa Harrison | January 25, 2018|
The Dorset branch of the Haliburton County Public Library (HCPL) does not meet provincial standards for regular operations, and Algonquin Highlands township is considering ways to modify the branch space for more effective usage.
The library is located in the Dorset Recreation Centre on Main Street, as is the township’s Dorset satellite office. AH provides the library space and furniture, and HCPL provides the borrowing services. Library service hours are down to eight hours per week. Programming includes a book club and “coffee and conversation” events. The library’s future was discussed at a Haliburton County Library board meeting in September and additional information requested by AH council was provided to council in November.
AH staff have since met with library staff and assessed alternative options for library services and the space. Their report was presented at council’s regular meeting on Jan. 18. The options include a weekly “book drop” service. Library users would place holds on their chosen materials via the HCPL website. AH staff would receive the materials from the library, manage pickup of the materials by patrons, and receive and organize returned materials for HCPL pickup. Removing in-house books and shelving would clear space for the public use computers that are part of the county’s popular Community Access Program (CAP), and the number of computers
and work tables could be increased.
Two AH staff members currently working in cramped quarters could also relocate. The report noted that from November 2016 to October 2017, there were 1,928 circulations, of which 20 per cent were arranged using the “hold” process. Council comments included concerns that this low percentage doesn’t bode well, and that many library users are seniors and others without computer knowledge. Also, the current library serves as a hub for many patrons who are otherwise socially isolated, and that would likely change if it became a depot.
One councillor said closing a library is “unpalatable to everyone.” Some councillors requested more data.
“I don’t see it at all as … closing [a] library,” said Mayor Carol Moffatt. “I see it as transitioning to meet current needs while still blending that with some traditional services.”
“The library board has identified under its own mandate and regulations that [the branch] is struggling,” added Moffatt. “There are no more hours available to provide more opportunity for people to go and browse for books … and based on the requirements of the province … I don’t see anything getting any better there unless we change it and provide different and more modern opportunities for people to participate in the community.”
Council directed staff to obtain capital pricing requirements for the renovations outlined in the report and develop a transition plan with timelines for presentation at a future council meeting.
LISA HARRISON is a contributing writer for The Highlander.