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OPINION: Now’s the time to make a wonderful library system even better

Published on

Thea deGroot

I love libraries, mostly because I love to read.

As an immigrant family of readers, the library immediately became one of our go-to places with weekly visits. Soon after our arrival in Canada, we went to the library for the first time and headed right for the books on Holland, our birth country.

And wouldn’t we find a picture of our grandparents’ house in that book? What a find.

As a teenager with two weeks free from summer work before the new school year, I went to the library, took out as many books as were allowed, and spent those weeks in The Pinery, reading.

Thea deGroot

When my husband and I would take a week off work and child-rearing we would call it a five-or-six-book holiday. Libraries opened the world to the lives of others, topics of interest, deep thinking and all for the price of a library card.

In raising our children, the library was a weekly event, a comfortable place where the librarians knew our names and welcomed us. Then we went home with a stack of books keeping us occupied for days, savouring the stories and learning about the world. What a gift.

My earliest library was a Carnegie library – one of the 125 built in Canada from 1883 and 1929. It was a massive and beautiful building much like SCITS. Libraries have changed over the years and now offer a wide selection of materials, activities and resources. I applaud all of that.

In Lambton County we have a wonderful system that provides resources to all corners of the county in buildings and on-line, and those who run the system are doing their best with the available space and finances.

However, our buildings are no longer suitable for what is expected and needed of them. I sincerely hope the former SCITS building can be renovated to become a community hub hosting the main library, a Sarnia museum, and perhaps some other community necessities such as a theatre and meeting spaces.

Come and take a look for yourself on April 28, when a memorabilia viewing and time capsule opening will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 275 Wellington St.

I know there’s an effort to move City Hall into SCITS, but it seems to me that it would be better to sell the City Hall property and renovate or build a new City Hall on the downtown library property.

That would bring City Hall closer to the south-end where many people walk or take the bus out of necessity. It would tie the Mitton Street area to the downtown, allow for more parking and a City Hall suitable to today’s needs.

Yes, our county libraries all need improvements, but let’s concentrate first on the main library and help rebuild the downtown core

We finally have a state-of-the-art gallery. Let’s now take on the main library and a museum.

Thea deGroot is a local retiree who wants this city and county to be a thriving community to all who live here.



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