The provincial library in Charlottetown could be on the move after the Confederation Centre of the Arts approached the government about finding somewhere else to house it.
© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Jill MacMicken Wilson, here at the Confederation Centre Public Library, says the facility has served the public well but has some problems because of the space it’s in.
Few details were available Wednesday about a potential move, but a statement from a Tourism Department spokesman confirmed the centre approached the province about freeing up the space the library uses.
“The province has not yet received an official proposal from the centre and the discussion is very preliminary in nature.”
Since the centre approached the province the Tourism Department has held preliminary internal discussions on how to proceed if the Confederation Centre sends an official proposal, the statement said.
The issue came up after a letter from former library staff member Don Scott ran in The Guardian in which he questioned why such a move would be considered.
Although the Confederation Centre has housed the library since it opened in 1964, the provincial government staffs and runs it and pays $178,000 a year to lease the space. The centre pays for maintenance and upkeep.
When contacted about a potential move, a spokesman for the centre sent a statement, which said it was in the preliminary phase of assessment and discussion with the province about the use of the library space. The statement also said the centre has a mandate to inspire Canadians, through heritage and the arts, to celebrate the origins and evolution of Canada as a nation.
“The centre has grown far beyond its original offerings and currently rents space in several different locations outside of the complex for various programming needs.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Jill MacMicken Wilson, acting director of libraries and archives, said she couldn’t talk about a potential move, but did discuss some of the issues the library has to deal with because of the space it’s in.
MacMicken Wilson said the centre has served the library well over the years but its changing needs aren’t being met.
“Libraries are not just places where you can borrow books,” she said.
The library has turned into a community gathering space with different programs on offer, such as reading clubs for teens and social media training for seniors, but it doesn’t have meeting rooms where groups can get away from other library patrons, she said.
MacMicken Wilson said accessibility can be an issue and the library’s elevator is small and there isn’t much office space.
The library also doesn’t have any bathrooms.
“That’s a bit of an issue,” MacMicken Wilson said.
She also said she thinks a lot of people have an emotional attachment to the library and they feel it is a community space.
“It is a wonderful place.”