Creative might wins the day at Ontario Library Association Awards
By Angela Long
Published July 12, 2016
Haliburton County Public Library’s Wilberforce branch will be attracting more than just bookworms from now on. On July 8, the branch was one of the 2016 Ontario Library Association New Library Building Award winners, alongside heavy hitters such as Ryerson University’s Student Learning Centre and the Toronto Public Library’s Fort York Branch.
CEO of Haliburton County Public Library Bessie Sullivan, who attended the award ceremony held at the Sheridan Conference Centre in Oakville, thinks the attention is well deserved.
“It’s a beautiful building, and very unique,” she said. “You can’t find another one like it in North America.”
Since the announcement, Sullivan has noticed a spike in interest for the 2,200 square foot building that was constructed by students in Ted Brandon’s Sustainable Building Design and Construction Program at Fleming College and designed by Sherri and Patrick Marcotte of Bancroft’s HavenCraft Designs.
“We just enhanced our Google analytics,” Sullivan said. “We can see what people are using our website for, and we’ve already seen a huge jump in people asking for driving instructions to Wilberforce.”
Opened on June 21, 2014, the Wilberforce branch wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for a community who insisted that a library is integral to a village’s infrastructure.
In “Size Matters: The Small Library as Place,” Haliburton County librarian Erin Kernohan-Berning quotes Highlands East Councillor Joan Barton: “When fire trucks wear out you replace them. When libraries wear out you replace them.”
Because of the community, writes Kernohan-Berning, their rummage sales and bake sales, their sheer enthusiasm, they are as “integral to this library as the straw bales of its walls.”
And now those walls are being honoured as some of the best and most innovative in the nation.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Sullivan. “The building was a really good collaboration between four different groups – Highlands East municipality, Haliburton County Public Library, Fleming College, and HavenCraft Designs.”
Wilberforce branch demonstrates how community enthusiasm can transform into the tangible with the right ingredients – supportive councillors, passionate librarians, student labourers, innovative designers.
The building showcases the energy-saving techniques and green-building technologies taught by Fleming College, including straw bale construction, passive solar, and wattle and daub.
Like the many genres of books that line the branch’s shelves, the building is what Sullivan describes as “a really interesting collection of different kinds of skills and techniques.”
The building showcases something else, too.
“Creating something fantastic for a community isn’t about how much money you have,” said Sullivan. “It’s about how much creativity you have.”