The United Way of Colchester will be featured prominently when the new Truro library opens its doors.

The organization recently announced it was committing $75,000 over the next three years to the Love My Library campaign. Keltie Jones, who chairs the United Way board of directors, presented the first $25,000 installment to Mary Brown of the Colchester-East Hants Public Library Foundation.

“After discussing the important role the library plays in our community, it was clear that the services and programs offered were aligned with the United Way’s three main focus areas,” said Jones. “Our board saw that by supporting the library we will be helping kids be all they can be, building strong communities and moving people from poverty to possibility for many years to come.”

As part of the funding announcement, it was also unveiled the United Way of Colchester would be recognized for its support in the children’s section of the library. It will be known as the United Way of Colchester’s Children’s Area.

Brown says on average 2,000 people from all walks of life and age groups visit the current library each week, which made the United Way a good fit.

“Today’s public library is much more than books. It is a community space with educationally and socially relevant programs,” she said.

Since the announcement, United Way Executive Director Terry Hearn says the feedback has been primarily positive. She credited the board of directors with doing their due diligence before making any commitment.

In the end, she’s excited about the United Way’s involvement with the library, which will be located in the former Normal College directly behind the current site.

“We could see the community was rallying around this project,” said Hearn. “I think most people are really excited to see this completed. I don’t think there’s any doubt the new library will be a major hub for our town.”

The money will come from the United Way’s capital fund and reserves. That includes money received through endowments and bequests as well as investment earnings but doesn’t include money raised in the annual workplace campaign.
Nuri Guerra is heading up the library’s public campaign. She says the United Way’s contribution brings them to approximately 70 per cent of their $1 million goal.

“We are eternally grateful for this help,” said Guerra. “Now the push is on to collect the remaining 30 per cent of our fundraising total. With more plans in place, there’s definitely a sense of urgency.”

With the United Way name on the children’s area, that leaves six rooms that need sponsorship. Guerra says one of those rooms is the teen program room.

The other sections are adult non-fiction, the fireside lounge, community lounge, historical section and adult fiction.

“We’d like to encourage families, businesses and organizations to consider joining together in an effort to name a room,” continued Guerra. “One example of that is Tim Hortons. Four different owners in Colchester County have come together to name a room. It’s a nice touch and we understand that joining with others might be a better option.”

Guerra believes the community will be rallying behind the campaign and push it to the $1 million mark. She knows it’s hard for some people to commit money when they’re unable to see the finished project.

“That goes for all aspects of our campaign,” she said. “From purchasing a book plate to naming a chair, when people can’t see the finished project it does prevent them from stepping forward. It’s the same with the actual building. Once they see the finished product and how beautiful it’s going to be, I know they’ll be extremely pleased. But we have to ask people to take a leap of faith and get involved.”

The old library closed its doors on May 1, setting in motion plans that will lead up to the opening of the new library. A special closing ceremony was held which included the unveiling of a commemorative display which will be located in the historical section of the new library.

Now, staff will feverishly work to pack up everything and have it ready to be moved into the new facility.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Janet Pelley, library director. “I’ve spent 40 years in that building and there are other staff members who have been there almost that long. But we have to move on. We have two weeks scheduled for packing. We actually started that process a little early which will take us to our move week starting May 16. Then we have to have to set everything up, put up signage and have everything ready for the opening.”

Staff members were responsible for all of the packing but a moving company was hired for the heavy lifting. Pelley says many in the community have offered to help with the move but because of liability issues, it just wasn’t possible.