Nova Scotia

Kentville Library moving into former United church on Main Street

Nova Scotians are known to treat books as semi-holy objects, so it should surprise no one that Kentville is moving its library into a landmark church building.

Library will retain wide-open ceilings, turn deconsecrated church into a heaven for book lovers

The former United church in Kentville will become the new site of the Kentville Library next month. (Google Streetview)

Nova Scotians are known to treat books as semi-holy objects, so it should surprise no one that Kentville is moving its library into a landmark church building.

The Kentville Library on Cornwallis Street will open for the last time on Aug. 6 and then close for good.

On Aug. 15, the library will open in the new location, said Mark Phillips, CAO of Kentville. 

The new space is the former United Church of St. Paul and St. Stephen on Main Street, he said Monday. 

Library outgrew old building

The library has about 5,290 users from throughout Kings County and outgrew the 1,800-square-foot facility. Also, the town plans to demolish the old building as it replaces a bridge over the Cornwallis River. 

"We just needed a better space for Kentville," he said.

This version of the Kentville Library will close for good in August. (Google Streetview)

The library will be smaller at first, keeping the basic operations of borrowing and lending going while crews renovate the rest of the 4,000-square-foot space.

"Essentially the former church area will be transformed to accommodate the new library operations," Phillips said. "Architecturally, it will stay the same with the wide-open ceilings, but the lighting will be upgraded and your traditional red or green carpet will be removed."

He expects to be fully open in the new location in the fall. The new space will be leased for about $71,500 a year, and Kings County will kick in $32,000 of that annually.

Phillips said they expect to need another $200,000 to improve the space. They have more than $110,000 so far and will fundraise for the rest to provide community spaces, shelving and landscaping.

Altar will host community room

Ann-Marie Mathieu, CEO of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library system, said community consultations shaped the plans for converting the stone church.

"We're looking at designing the community room up on the altar space and I guess the rest of the pew area will be our teen spaces, our senior section, our children's area, as well as the regular stacks," she said Tuesday.

There will be comfortable reading places and a closed-in community meeting room.

Mathieu said it's just one bright light in a luminous library system in the Annapolis Valley.

"It's wonderful news for us. The really delightful thing is everybody here is so enthusiastic about it, and so are we," she said.

6 of 11 libraries upgraded

Mathieu said, in recent years, the AVRL has upgraded libraries in Hantsport, Port Williams and Berwick, and are discussing improvements for Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown.

"Six of our eleven facilities are looking at having major renovations or a completely new build, or a move. It's a really exciting time and I think it speaks to the kind of support the community in the Annapolis Valley has for library services," she said.  

People won't accrue late fees during the closure. The book drop will remain open at the old library until the temporary new one opens. Patrons can also return or borrow books from any other Annapolis Valley Regional Library branch.

The church on Main Street dates back more than a century. In 1914, the new, stone Presbyterian Church was built. In 1923, Methodists and Presbyterians came together in the shared worship space of the United Church of St. Paul and St. Stephen. 

It's one of many creative ways people have converted churches in Nova Scotia.