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Long awaited CBS Public Library opens doors to the public

By Mark Squibb/January 27, 2023

Thursday morning marked a day many years in the making, as staff welcomed the public into the new Conception Bay South Public Library for the very first time.

When staff opened the front doors at 10 a.m., 16 people were lined up waiting to be let in.

“We are super excited,” said Rebecca Stone, librarian and familiar face to Conception Bay South’s bibliophiles. “Last week we were nervous that nothing was going to be ready. But we are all ready, and we are super excited. It’s going to be an amazing thing for the town to have a facility like this.”

For years, folks have been checking out their books from a 2,400 square foot building near the RNC station, a building so tiny you felt you hardly had room to turn around and whose windows were hidden behind shelves of books.

“I don’t know if you can compare the two buildings, but we’ve learned a lot of lessons from a building like that, which were buildings that were never intended to be libraries,” said Andrew Lockhart, Eastern Division Manager with NL Public Libraries, who said the Town involved library staff with the development of the new facility, which comes in at around 8,600 square feet. He noted that unlike the former building, the new library is only one story, and is more accessible to all members of the public.

“There’s lots of dedicated community space, there’s lots of room for shelving, there’s lots of open space,” said Lockhart. “We have open windows and lots of light here, and in contrast the old building was very, very dark.”

The new library even has heated floors, which staff hope encourages people to come in, sit down, and stay a while.

‘The Town was really on board with that request, and that’s something we’re very excited about as well,” said Lockhart.

And, if you haven’t been inside a library since your school days, you may be surprised by the shift that libraries have undergone over the last couple of years. No longer are libraries monkish cloisters overloaded by stern librarians tapping ‘Please, No Talking’ signs, but instead, are as much about community and play as they are about Dickens and Wordsworth.

“Books, obviously, are still important,” said Stone. “But we focus more on programming and what programs we can offer for the community.”

She noted the addition of the Maker Space, a room dedicated to folks who want to learn skills such as audio/visual recording, hacking, 3D printing, music, or even more traditional skills such as sewing or how to grow a tomato, will also be a great asset to the community.

“Being able to offer programming on this scale, that’s what sets us apart from libraries of 20 or 30 years ago,” said Stone.

Lockhart noted a lack of free community space in Conception Bay South, and said the library may be able to offer community space for groups looking for a place to gather.

“That’s one of the reasons we’re trying to stay open until 9 p.m. three nights a week,” he said. “I think we’re the only library in the province right now that’s open on a Friday night. So, we’re trying to push this as a place to be, and hopefully get some younger people in.”

If you are heading to the library to check out a book, there is plenty to choose from.

Staff estimate that upwards of 60,000 books line the shelves.

But it’s not just books that folks can borrow from the library. Patrons can also borrow DVDs, a practise that has become very popular in recent years.

“We have a big DVD collection here, and cable and streaming services are expensive,” said Stone. “A library card can take out six DVDs at a time, so we get a lot of families who come in, and the kids take out their six DVDs and the parents take out their six DVDs. And if we don’t have it, we can order it in from somewhere else.”

Folks can also borrow board games from the library (Stone noted the old library didn’t have the space to house a board game collection) and staff hope users will be able to check out video games sometime in the future.

Whether you’re a faithful patron or haven’t been inside a library since elementary school, the staff encourages everyone to come and check out the new space.

“And if you lost a library book back in Grade 5, it’s okay, you can come back,” Stone joked. “We’ll be really nice about it. Come in, see the space, have a chat, we’ll give you a tour.”

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