Candidates weigh in on Dorset library
Algonquin Highlands council candidates were asked about the future of the Dorset library branch during an all-candidates meeting on Sept. 13, and all seem in favour of maintaining library services in one way or another.
With low circulation numbers at the branch, operated by the Haliburton County Public Library and located within the Dorset Recreation Centre, council has been discussing changing the space, perhaps into some sort of community hub, and perhaps with a book pick-up service. It is currently open eight hours a week. The township undertook a public consultation during the summer.
“I believe the Dorset library should remain in place,” said Ward 1 candidate David Lawson. “It is a valuable community asset for the area. I think if we lose it, it would be a great loss to the town.”
While Lawson said it was good to have books at the location, “I think if they turn more of it to a computer centre, a media centre as well, that would allow more use of the space, rather than just eight hours a week.”
“I’m a reader, I get it,” said Ward 1 candidate Julia Shortreed. “I worked at the library when I was a teenager, I love the library. Technology is changing everything, but I’m still a firm believer in having a library in every local town.”
“I know the township is looking at making it a more multi-use library, which is great for everyone,” Shortreed said. “You’ll still have books available to you, you’ll have to order them first. It’s just the way the world’s going.”
Ward 3 candidate Jennifer Dailloux said that perhaps lessons from the vibrant Dwight library could be applied to the Dorset facility.
“I live in Oxtongue Lake and our local library is in Dwight and Dwight library is the heart and soul and hub of Dwight,” Dailloux said, explaining that a series of well-attended programs takes place there.
“It’s an extraordinary facility, it’s full of life, and I do wonder why, 20 minutes down the road, we have a library that is effectively dying, and what is it that we can learn from the Dwight library that we could possibly apply to Dorset library and rejuvenate it, and make it the centre of life here in Dorset,” she said.
Ward 3 candidate Brian Lynch, who is currently councillor in Ward 1, agreed the Dwight library is fantastic, but said the Dorset library branch was a different situation.
“We have a rec centre in Dorset that runs many similar activities,” Lynch said. “Those activities aren’t attached to the library. The issue is not the library, the issue is the space the library takes up. The library is open eight hours a week and it takes up a great deal of space. I think we need to negotiate with the library board. They’re not looking to close the library here, but I think there might be a better way to deliver library services to Dorset.”
Lynch added he’d like to continue to see books on shelves at the facility.