Nfld. & Labrador

A novel idea: Conception Bay South welcomes new public library

Recording equipment, 3D printers, a hydroponic garden — Conception Bay South's new library, which opened Wednesday, offers much more than books.

New $4M state-of-the-art library will offer more than just books

A man with thick rimmed black glasses, blue shirt, and grey cardigan stands in front of book shelves in a library.
Ed Lawlor, secretary of the Conception Bay South Library Board, says the opening of a new library is positive news for the town. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

Literature lovers and nostalgic readers have a new place to curl up in Conception Bay South. 

A new state-of-the-art library opened this week, with over triple the space as the town's previous library.

Ed Lawlor, secretary of the Conception Bay South Library Board, said today's libraries are much different from the institutions that used to be just book-lending services.

"Libraries today are offering programs on literacy, story times, reading programs, book clubs, and they're opening up to the community," he said. 

Nonprofit groups can use the space for presentations or demonstrations, and the library can be a hub for tourism information. It will also offer COVID-19 kits. 

Lawlor said the library's opening marks a big switch from when many provincial libraries were threatened with closure just a few years ago, and the potential for community involvement with the library's new services is "tremendous."

"I see libraries as the community, as people from many, many different walks of life and many different age groups that are able to come in here and see some niche that they're interested in," he said.

"Libraries have a personal connection. And that's the important thing, that when people come in they have a personal connection with this great young staff that we have here."

The modern library

Andrew Lockhart, N.L. Public Libraries' eastern division manager, said the library offers a self-checkout tablet system, which lets people use their library card to check out a tablet to use in the library. The tablets house all of the library's digital services in apps such as Libby and PressReader.

People sit in chairs among book stacks in a library.
The new library will offer books, tablets, access to recording and editing equipment, and more. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

Lockhart said the library is incorporating a "maker space" that will have units for recording, 3D printers and a hydroponic garden. The space will also include traditional crafting utilities like sewing machines. Outside is a solar panel that will help power some of the utilities inside.

A man in a grey suit smiles, standing in front of stacks of books.
C.B.S. Mayor Darrin Bent says the library's importance was demonstrated by the lineup of people waiting to get in. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

Conception Bay South Mayor Darrin Bent said the library's importance to the town was demonstrated by the people waiting to get inside at Wednesday's opening.

"I think the answer came first thing this morning at 10 o'clock, with a line up outside the doors," he said.

"Some people question whether there's a need in today's society for a library — there's absolutely a need. And not only a need, maybe more so than ever," he added. "This is not your parents' library, this is a new facility. This is a library resource learning centre. It has internet access, computer terminals, iPads that you can use within the facility."

A warm welcome

Megan Parsons was at the opening of the library today with her two daughters. 

"I felt like it was so welcoming when you first came through the door, it was such an open space," she said. "I grew up in C.B.S. and was very familiar with the old library. So to be able to compare kind of one to the other, I think it's just an incredible open welcoming space for everybody of all ages and all abilities to be able to be here."

A woman and two young children hold books and stand in front of a bookshelf.
Megan Parsons, an avid library user, brought her daughters Annie and Caroline to the library's opening. (Stephanie Kinsella/CBC)

Lawlor said libraries are vital to communities, which often see the library as the centre of a town.

"Citizens of C.B.S. are just excited, and our more than 10,000 patrons of this library are certainly very, very excited about this news," he said. "Since 1982, we've been lobbying for a new library structure in C.B.S., and to see this come to fruition is just amazing and we're so pleased."

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Sarah Antle


Sarah Antle is a journalist working with CBC in the St. John's bureau.


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