by Em Blake
It’s been almost a year since Bradford’s public library moved from a quiet side street, Holland Court. Bradford’s new Library and Cultural Centre stands guard over the Holland Street West expansion and development, not only as a monument to the Town’s growth, but also a shining symbol of Bradford’s sense of community and culture.
Inside, some of the library’s walls are lined with local artwork. On the second floor, the Local History Room houses books, records and artifacts, including a model of the old library – and a glass showcase is filled with vintage photos and relics of the Town’s history. There is the Zima Performance room, meeting and program rooms, a computer room, reading nooks.
“I think we’re the major venue for literacy and culture in the community,” said Liz Fenwick, CEO of the Library and Cultural Centre.
The additional space in the new facility – going from a facility of about 12,000 sq. ft., to 42,200 sq. ft. – has allowed a wide variety of children-and-adult-oriented programs, as well as new teen programming not available before, said Fenwick – and new partnerships, with groups like the Bradford Arts Guild, Knit Happens knitting circle, and a scrap-booking club, in addition to mainstays such as the children’s reading club, art exhibition and local writers’ circle.
“It’s an opportunity for people to get together… people who want to do the same things or experience the same things,” Fenwick said. “It’s been a really wonderful opportunity for us to build partnerships that would link out into the community… When you work together, you’re stronger and you provide better content, programs, and visibility for others.”
Since the new facility’s grand opening last May, there have been over 3,000 new library card registrations, jumping from 13,643 to 16,675 – half of Bradford’s growing population, Fenwick said.
Nothing’s perfect, however. There have been a few problems with the new building: bad lighting in the reading lounge at night, peeling wood panelling, issues with transferring procedures from the old facility, and initially, some technical problems with the motion-activated lighting system. “You’d have to stand up and wave like an idiot to get the lights on,” Fenwick said.
She noted that staff limitations also affect the number of events that are available to the public, due to the fact that programs are run back-to-back. There are currently 29 staff members working at the library – 10 full time, 11 part-timers available from 13 to 20 hours per week, and eight students, working eight hours a week.
“We don’t get too many bad comments,” Fenwick concluded. “[People] like the space, and they like the windows.
“The problems we have are gradually filtering out… We can’t ask for more.”
To see a list of the Bradford Public Library & Cultural Centre’s upcoming events and community programs, go to http://www.bradford.library.on.ca.