By Miriam Ostermann, Associate Editor
The last three months proved a testament to the Strathmore Municipal Library’s impact on the community, when the town and various local organizations stepped up and provided necessary space for storage and program continuance.
The library moved into their 1,500 sq. ft. temporary space on 3rd Ave. at the end of July while awaiting the completion of the renovations at the Lambert Centre.
Now, three months later, roughly 20 volunteers taped up over 150 boxes in just two hours, ready to be transported back to the library’s original space that is opening its doors on Nov. 15.
“Three months is a short time, but it’s been a long time coming,” said Jim Greer, Strathmore Municipal Library board president. “We’ve been undersized for a long time and this renovation will bring us to the point where we can serve the needs of the people of Strathmore in a manner they deserve. It’s been 10 to 12 years that we’ve been in that space and the town has grown greatly in that time and we didn’t. Now we’re catching up to the town and we’re looking forward to it.”
For over a decade, the library operated in a 4,432 sq. ft. space that fell flat on meeting the province’s standards, which stated Strathmore was only functioning at 57 per cent of what was expected to provide an essential level of service for a population of over 10,000.
With a healthy cash injection of $350,000 from the Town of Strathmore and another $350,000 from the library’s reserves, the project’s $700,000 budget proved sufficient to renovate the facility and thus increase the space to 8,500 sq. ft. by relocating the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) offices.
Last year, the library offered 378 programs, and because of the involvement of local organizations and the Town of Strathmore, programs continued to exist. Wheatland Society of Arts (WSA) provided storage space and hosted numerous programs, while the Parent Link Centre provided a place for the Nighttime Tales program. Furthermore, the Town of Strathmore was instrumental in finding a temporary location.
“We already have such wonderful partners and that’s one thing that’s so humbling to know, that when we were in need people came out in droves and said ‘how can we help you?’ It’s been truly wonderful,” said Carmen Erison, assistant director of library services for the Strathmore Municipal Library.
“What was fantastic about being in this temporary facility is just seeing that collaboration with the partners in town and how much we all banded together for one goal – a continued library service – while we were here. It’s only going to get better once we go to our new facility and we’re able to increase our programs and services to another level.”
The makeover will outfit the facility with an area to display art, quiet areas, proper staff accommodations, increased seating possibilities, a fireplace, new flooring, larger programming room, and a teen and children’s area. The additional space will meet 95 per cent of Alberta’s standards and is expected to accommodate the library for 10 more years.
While still fundraising for the bells and whistles, the library has already received $5,600 in donations through a GoFundMe page and in-person donations. Among their various fundraising efforts, the staff created a 32-foot-long mural that will be hung in the new location displaying a bookshelf. Painted on the canvas are various items – books, critters and windows – that the public can purchase to showcase their name. The library’s fundraising efforts are ongoing.
In appreciation of the contributions, the library has sent out invitations to the donors for a sneak peek event on Nov. 14.
The library will open its doors on Nov. 15. However, the official grand opening will take place on Dec. 2.