By Chad Ingram
Published Oct. 25 2018
The majority of respondents to a survey on the future of the Dorset branch of the Haliburton County Public Library indicated they would support turning the space located within the Dorset Recreation Centre into some sort of community hub.
However since not all comments made in response to the survey made it into a final report councillors will be deferring discussion on the issue until their November meeting.
For more than a year councillors have been discussing the possibility of turning the area that has housed the library branch into a multi-use space. Circulation figures from the branch which is open eight hours a week are low and there has been discussion of providing a book-drop service where residents could still pick up and drop off books ordered from the library. That sort of model would mean there would no longer necessarily be books on shelves to peruse per se.
The township issued the survey this past summer with the response period closing on Aug. 31. It received 154 responses.
Seventy-six per cent of respondents indicated they support the concept of a book-drop service and nearly 70 per cent supported the creation of a community hub that would be managed by the township and open the same 40 hours per week as the rec centre; much longer hours than the library branch currently is. As the survey explained this hub could include the location for the book-drop program; a new reception and customer service space for the rec centre; moving four public computers out of the squash courts where they are currently housed; a lounge area; and the continuation of programs such as the local book club.
The survey also provided room for resident comments and Mayor Carol Moffatt indicated that a discrepancy between the online and paper formats of the survey meant that not all comments had been included in the report.
“We were alerted yesterday due to an online survey and the way the online survey translated into paper there were some comments that didn’t get included” Moffatt said. “So I’m suggesting we defer this discussion until those comments can be included in the report.”
“I definitely support it [the deferral] I think we need to ensure that we include everything” said Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen who sits on the board of the Haliburton County Public Library. “It’s been a contentious item and we need to have all the comments included. Plus I did when asked given the timing and not knowing that we were not going to be lame duck I had advised the library board that we would probably not be making a decision until the new council was in place.”
“Lame duck” refers to the period following the closing of nominations in a municipal election where councils are restricted from making certain significant decisions including large spending decisions. However three of the five members of Algonquin Highlands council – Moffatt Danielsen and Councillor Lisa Barry – were acclaimed meaning that council does not enter a “lame duck” period.