Not set in stone: SDG Library report lists potential closures

Are South Dundas’ library branches at risk of closing? – The SDG Library system accepted a report for long term planning of the SDG Counties’ library system. Among the 20 recommendations made by the consultant who prepared the report, was a look at closing library branches in South Dundas. The report says to keep the Iroquois branch and either close the Morrisburg or Williamsburg branch. (The Leader/Blancher photos)

MORRISBURG – The SDG County Library recently completed a service delivery review, and it seems that every time such a review takes place, the Williamsburg Branch of the SDG library finds itself shortlisted for potential closure.

With the service delivery review presented to SDG council last week, Williamsburg was not the lone South Dundas branch named on closure short-list – Morrisburg was also included.

“It’s a report. It’s not cast in stone,” said Karen Franklin, director of library services for the SDG Library. (Franklin will retire from that role June 30 after serving for 14 years.)

Although any potential closures will follow a facilities review and not be decided for a few years, that list suggests consideration of potential closures in every lower-tier municipality of the United Counties of SDG.

Listed under the report heading of ‘Possible longer term solutions’ the report says for South Dundas to retain the Iroquois branch and consider closing either Williamsburg or Morrisburg.

For North Dundas the report says to retain the South Mountain and Chesterville branches and consider closing the Winchester branch.

In North Stormont the report suggests retaining the Avonmore branch and to consider closing either Crysler or the Finch Maker Lab.

The South Stormont potential recommendation is to retain the Long Sault branch and to consider closing either Ingleside or St. Andrew’s West Express.

The North Glengarry proposed recommendation is to retain Alexandria and Dalkeith and consider closing the Maxville Branch.

The South Glengarry recommendation is to expand Lancaster and close Williamstown.

The consultants, SDG officials and library officials all made it abundantly clear that the recommendations contained in the service delivery review document by no means represent finalized action plans and decisions.

The report offers 20 recommendations. The most immediate four address organizational structure, human resources and staffing.

The other 16 recommendations, which address the library facilities and the future of those facilities, “will be looked at over time by the board and be considered in the future,” said Franklin.

The new library board for this term of council, includes Warden Tony Fraser, SDG councillors Frank Landry, Lachlan McDonald and Jason Broad, while Jo-Anne McCaslin is the lay appointee for this term of council.

This study’s timeline is five years, so Franklin said that the new board will have ample opportunity to get familiar with the library system and for the new board to determine its priorities and direction.

As a new board member, McDonald was quick to put his support behind the libraries: “I will strongly support keeping as many libraries as possible,” he said. “It’s good to find efficiencies but it’s also good to keep in mind the importance of this resource for those who might not have the same means as us.”

He pointed out that not only do libraries provide books for free, they also provide free internet and more.
Under the current structure the SDG library rents space from area municipalities to house 14 of its 15 branch locations which costs just under $200,000 annually for rent and utilities.

Recommendation 16 is that the SDG Library should encourage the SDG Counties to acquire the properties that constitute the system to ensure a level of consistency with respect to the ongoing maintenance and care of the facilities.

South Dundas’ three library branches are all in a good state of repair. The Morrisburg and Williasmburg branches were both moved to newly renovated branches in new locations within the last 10 years and the Iroquois branch underwent a refresh update in its longtime location at the Iroquois Civic Centre within the last two years.

The first actions that will come out of this report are the hiring of staffing positions that have been vacant.

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