Library looks to town, ministry for future library expansion

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Two words were top of mind for Jeri Maitland Sunday afternoon after wrapping up the weekend celebrations of Alberta Culture Days: library expansion.

The executive director of the Cochrane Public Library was more than happy to discuss her vision of the future community hub she envisions with Ricardo Miranda, the Alberta Minister of Culture and Tourism.

“I’m not going to leave my job here until that happens,” laughed Maitland, when asked if she could foresee the community library eventually transformed into a cultural hub – incorporating other community groups, players and artists on a bigger site and in a bigger space.

Maitland is hopeful the next council will work with her to achieve just that.

Miranda made a stop at the town library during the afternoon of Oct. 1 as part of his ministerial visits to communities in southern Alberta, delivering grant dollars in the spirit of Alberta Culture Days 2017 – including $1,000 for the Cochrane pop-up library event.

“What I see is people being together in one space … that’s what culture is about – diversity,” said Miranda, who was making a total of five stops that day from Canmore to Calgary, on his way to wind up the day at the Korean Community Centre.

Miranda was keen on Maitland’s proposal that Cochrane’s library would benefit from provincial grant dollars to expand the library into a larger, more multi-use space that could incorporate different community outlets.

“The minister will help us find funding,” said Maitland, adding that the next step would be working with the town to identify a future site.

Mayor Ivan Brooker was also in favour of the idea, noting that the current facility is “busting at the seams” and that based on library capacity standards is only at half of what it should be in terms of size for a population approaching 27,000.

“Libraries are far from obsolete … people don’t understand all the library does every year,” said Brooker, who attended the event with his family that day.

Maitland said her recent visit to a rural libraries conference showcased the Grande Prairie Public Library – an impressive facility of 30,000 sq. ft. that included multi-purpose rooms and multi-user spaces, serving a population of more than 60,000.

The 240,000 sq. ft. new Central Library that is being constructed in Calgary also provides further evidence that libraries are growing not declining and are important gathering spaces, according to Maitland.

The nationwide Culture Days event has been officially celebrated by Alberta for 10 years with 68 community organizations receiving grants for three-day feature celebration events, two-day host events and one-day pop-up sites.

The Cochrane site facilitated a day of mural painting by dozens of budding artists of all ages taking their turn on the brush. Local artists will make the final touches before the mural is hung on the fence surrounding the library’s community garden.

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Lindsay Seewalt

Lindsay is a senior Eagle reporter who has transformed her penchant for storytelling into the craft of writing. She has a knack for getting the scoop on stories and is a strong interviewer. The U of C and MRU English/Journalism graduate is committed to telling every story through a new lens, from a fresh perspective. Currently, her focus is on news and politics reporting, including town hall. She has a passion for providing a platform for underdogs, grassroots movements and those who have the courage to put themselves out there. She bases the strength of her stories on the depth of her connection with her interviewee, which is best done over too much coffee.