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Sylvan Lake library shares updates for the past six months

Town’s increasing population indicates the potential to expand to a second library site

Many are curious about Sylvan Lake’s library. I would like to provide a mid-year update on our community library.

Our community has grown substantially; however, the size of our library’s square footage is only around 7,200 square feet. Sylvan Lake has grown to approximately 16,000 residents as per the 2021 census. We also serve the Summer Villages and some of Red Deer County. The county is approximately 20,000 people.

The library was built in 2000 and was renovated in 2014 when our population was 10,208 residents. Since 2014, we have experienced an increase of 56.7 per cent in population.

The ratio of square footage to population is not in keeping with the growth of the town. The calculation that is used to find the square footage of a library comparable to population numbers indicates Sylvan Lake could use a second library site.

What we have done with our space has been great, but we are limited with our current facility. As soon as we implement new programming - it’s full. Membership has grown despite the challenges of COVID-19, and we want to keep building on that momentum.

The library staff continues to be a supportive resource to the community — from warm welcomes to providing much requested resources. There is no doubt that our library is an essential hub that serves as a centre of learning, regional connection and professional development. The library hosted events such as resume review sessions run by the Career Leap team. Funded by the Governments of Alberta and Canada, events such as this wouldn’t be possible without a space like the library. The events allowed people a space to gather and further their professional possibilities, which strengthens our community as a whole.

The Library Board funded the purchase and the labour for the installation of the hedge at the east side to enhance an outdoor program space. In the past, the parking lot had been used for this purpose. But with the new hedge in place, the east outdoor program lawn became an ideal location to host the 1913 days book sale, run by the Friends of Sylvan Lake Library. We are so grateful for their ongoing support to our library.

We would also like to extend our appreciation to the town for the new flooring. This was a totally new, unexpected expense. The staff and board were shocked to find the existing carpet tiles lifting owing to some water damage and the unique construction of the building. We appreciate the expediency of the town’s response to address this issue.

We continue to be thoughtful with our budgetary spending and monitor our investments that have grown each year. The board will endure to be an advocate for the library and its desired expansion or additional location.

With a busy summer right around the corner, we anticipate more visitors than ever coming through our doors. Andrea Newland, our library director, and library staff are more than ready to welcome friends young and old, and continue to foster the positive community spirit that Sylvan Lake has come to be known for. The board strives to support those endeavours through our actions and policies.

- By Virginia Beswick

Vice Chair, Sylvan Lake Library Board