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New Annapolis Royal library, innovation lab open at The Academy

Librarian Dorothy MacDonald at the front counter of the new Annapolis Royal Library that opened at The Academy Nov. 23. The spacious location is warm and cozy. Staff moved to the new spot from the old location at town hall.
Librarian Dorothy McDonald at the front counter of the new Annapolis Royal Library that opened at The Academy Nov. 23. The spacious location is warm and cozy. Staff moved to the new spot from the old location at town hall. - Lawrence Powell

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, N.S. - From cramped quarters at town hall to a spacious suite of rooms at The Academy, Annapolis Royal’s long-anticipated and awaited new library and innovation lab are open.

The library was closed Nov. 20, 21, and 22 while staff moved thousands of books, hundreds of DVDs, computers, and other furniture and equipment to 143 Ritchie Street at the back entrance of the old regional academy.

On Nov. 23 the doors opened at 10 a.m. and local residents got to see the new digs.

Linda Moffat, president of the Friends of the Annapolis Royal Library said the group is pleased their dream of a new Annapolis Royal Library with a dedicated room for community programs, a better selection of books and DVDs, a quiet reading room, a larger children's Area, a high-tech community workshop, and office space for staff, has now been realized.

“We especially want to thank the many generous members of the local community and the four levels of government who have contributed financially to make this dream come true," she said.

Librarian Dorothy McDonald and staff were busy all last week moving books and putting them on shelves in their appropriate categories and of course in alphabetical order.

“When we started out 24 years ago down there it was perfect,” McDonald said of the town hall location. “It was much bigger than what we left over on Grange Street.”

She said a group was formed back in the early 1990s and raised money to move them down to town hall.

“It was great when we moved in,” she said. “It seemed so roomy.”

While the town hall location was cozy in an atmospheric sense, the much bigger new location at The Academy also feels cosy with warm colours, warm light, comfortable stuffed chairs, and space divided up into various rooms with lots of glass walls.

It’s been in the making for almost a decade with the Friends of the Library spearheading an effort that finally found space when the Annapolis Royal Regional Academy closed as a school and reopened as condominiums on the top two levels. The town moved its recreation department to the old gym and there had even been talk of moving the police department to the building.

A public user survey was conducted and influenced the design of the new library, including the innovation lab with its own board of directors where numerous tech projects can be accommodated with tools and electronic gear, worktables, and computers.

McDonald said that while many people have embraced the new technology libraries have been quick to adopt, books are still popular.

“Even people who love e-books love to have a book in their hands,” she said. “It’s a tactile thing.”

She said the largest library-using demographic is older people, perhaps 45 and up, but they still have lots of young families and children, and home-schooling families as well.

Beyond Beautiful

“It’s beyond beautiful,” said Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald.

He praised everyone involved since the beginning in the concept and the planning, including the former town council, the current town council, Friends of the Library, the regional library board, all the members of the community, and the library staff.

He said everybody was excited for the soft opening on Nov. 23.

“We’re going to have and official opening later in the new year, but this (Nov. 23) will be everybody’s opportunity to go in and actually use the library, see this incredible space,” he said.

He said the innovation centre is heads and shoulders above anything he could have imagined, and he pointed to the community space, the program room, the music room that will be shared by the community as well as great assets.

“It’s simply just exciting,” he said. “It’s awesome. They really is no other word for it.”

Open Hours

Open hours at the new location will be:
Monday -- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday -- CLOSED
Wednesday – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Thursday – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday -- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday -- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sunday -- CLOSED

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