The Heartbeat of our Community

Posted on December 25, 2017 under Storytelling with 4 comments

People’s Place Library. Warm and inviting.

 

On a cool fall evening in 1985, I knocked at the door of the owner of 99 Church Street. It was one of many homes I visited that year in an attempt to woo voters to support me in my bid for a seat on Town Council. A wisp of a woman stared me down. She put her finger on my chest and said, “ If you promise to work to get a new library for Antigonish, I will vote for you.”  And like most “ wanna be” politicians, I said yes!

The woman standing in front of me was never a casual bystander in her long, productive life. A skilled writer with a brilliant mind, Eileen Cameron Henry was a retired Town Councillor at the time and the most passionate supporter of the library that one could possibly imagine.

Well, Eileen, it took a long time but your dream became a reality when it opened its doors on May 24th, 2011.

What’s in a name?

Everything.

People’s Place Library. The building belongs to the people of our community.

In a very short period of time, the library has truly become the hub of activity for the citizens of the Town and County of Antigonish…. And beyond.

Many of you remember well the days when Grace MacKinnon and Rhynda Tudor toiled away in very cramped quarters in a few rooms at the rear of Town Hall. Space put restrictions on programming options. So when the push came to construct a new facility in a the building originally housing the “ downtown Sobey’s , “ the visionaries of People Place put together a wish list that would have made Santa blush. And like Santa, they delivered.

It is hard to describe what the library means to the community. We know that it is a meeting place where people from all walks of life have access to books, movies, art, the internet, programs and lectures, ACALA …and the list goes on. I’m sure that someone could tell you everything that goes on inside those walls. But it would be very difficult to clearly articulate the feelings that are evoked from having this place of caring and warmth in our midst.

Simply put, it is our greatest treasure. It defines us. It makes us better people.

One can’t say enough about the staff. I don’t think that any of them ( or us ) could ever have imagined the volume of traffic that passes through their doors on a daily basis. They are super friendly, bright engaging people.  They realize that they are there to serve the public, a very diverse public.

For our refugee and immigrant population, the library is singularly the most important place in town. It is there that many of them took their first baby steps in learning the English language, a skill so vital for their survival in a strange country.

In 2014, People’s Place received national recognition as “ Canada’s Great Public Space.”  We didn’t need a panel of expert judges to tell us that. We already knew it!

A few days ago, a Christmas party was held at the library for the Syrian families. The room was packed and the air was filled with joy and laughter. Two years ago, many of these same people were in refugee camps. Today, they are us. Watching children playing like children in a safe place ( a SAFE place! ) is as heartwarming as it gets at Christmas.

“ Peace on Earth” is a somewhat hollow refrain at this time of the year. We say it without giving much thought. With so much war, hatred, violence and human degradation, it’s hard to imagine a world filled with peace.

But in this small corner of paradise that we call Antigonish, we just might have a prescription for peace. Build a library that cares.

What a great place to start.

Enjoy this? Visit the rest of my website to enjoy more of my work or buy my books!
Highland Hearing Clinic
Advertisement

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Comments

4 Responses to The Heartbeat of our Community

  1. Great article Len. Thanks and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  2. Greg Albert says:

    Another interesting artical Len and for sure it took a lot of work and money to make the dream come true.Have a good Christmas day with family and friends and all the best in 2018.

  3. Great article….my favourite place in Antigonish !

  4. Irene Lefort says:

    Wonderful article, Len. You are such a good ambassador for our beautiful town. The library is just one more good reason to choose to live in Antigonish, a small but caring community that has everything one would want in a place to live.
    Thank you for your writing. I always look forward to the next article. Merry Christmas!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.