Haliburton County Public Library’s (HCPL) Stanhope branch is set to reopen for the first time in two years.

It will be open for browsing Dec. 3, after being closed in 2020 for accessibility upgrades, which took longer than expected due to material delays.

“It’s important to the community they have access to their library,” said HCPL CEO Chris Stephenson.

Upgrades to the North Shore Road facility include a new chair lift, a new entrance with automatic doors and an exterior concrete ramp. The work brings the building into compliance with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and was funded by the provincial Enabling Accessibility Fund.

“I want to give a shout-out to [Algonquin Highlands],” Stephenson said. “They’re helping us get it ready.”

In a Nov. 9 media release, branch supervisor Gayle Wetmore said, “I’m so excited for the re-opening. I look forward to welcoming back familiar faces and bringing new members to the branch. I’ve missed everyone so much.”

While the branch has been closed to the public, it’s still been a key cog in the HCPL system.

Staff would travel to the building to pick up books put on hold by users around the wider HCPL system.

“We know that readers there have good taste because the books have been in demand even when the library was closed,” Stephenson said, mentioning how the building itself is a landmark in the community.

“It’s a bright and classic library. You can see the community input over the years in the artwork that’s on the walls.”

The library system has seen unprecedented interest in its digital services over the last two years, including audiobooks, eBooks and more. However, Stephenson said, “there has always been a core group of users who have been missing that browsing experience.”

A reopening celebration party is planned when the final stages of work and inspections are complete.