The council has no plans to move the branch from its current location on Concession Street. However, it has yet to rule out an amalgamation of the Russell and Embrun branches when a dedicated library space is built at the proposed recreation complex near the sports dome in Embrun.
That space will at least be used as a permanent home for the Embrun library branch, which has been housed temporarily in École élémentaire catholique Embrun for several years. But the Save the Russell Library campaign has asked council to rule out moving the Russell branch to the same site.
During a delegation at the June 21 council meeting, Save the Russell Library member Cynthia MacRae said 1063 residents of the township added their name in support of maintaining the Russell library’s present site. She said the campaign was intended to be proactive, rather than trying to change a decision after it had been made.
Councillor Mike Tarnowksi thanked the group, but asked if the cost of operating two libraries instead of one had been considered in the group’s campaign.
“In our positions at council, we’re required to look at cost versus service level,” he said. “It’s not because I want to push for one or the other… I just want to be very transparent with the decisions we’re going to be faced with, and I just want to know if there is support from the community around paying a little more for that service, or having the opportunity to save money and have better or more services.”
MacRae said two locations would be well-used. “With two library branches, we still maintain a community based approach to core services,” she said. “I appreciate council has many challenging decisions ahead… but just as significant is what comes from an emotional response and a lived experience. I hope this information is given appropriate weight as well moving forward.”
Mayor Pierre Leroux said he expected the library board would research and recommend how to proceed with the library issue. “I know it is a very emotional subject, but we have to answer to everyone in the township and we can’t ignore other factors,” he said. “I’m looking forward to having citizen engagement.”
Meanwhile, an agreement to lease property at the Embrun Catholic School – Pavillon La Croisée to house the Embrun Public Library was renewed at the same council meeting. The council’s initial five-year agreement with the Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien was due to expire on August 1.
Under the renewed agreement, the council and school board will contribute 50 percent each to the electricity, heating, maintenance and maintenance supply costs of the branch. According to council documents, the last invoice was about $9000 over 12 months.
While the extension of the agreement would run from August 1, 2021 to August 1, 2026, the agreement includes a provision of termination with a year’s notice, giving council the opportunity to move the branch to the new recreation complex if the space is completed within that time.