After years of waiting, those who lobbied for a new library in Summerland have finally seen their hopes and dreams come to fruition.
The Okanagan Regional Library Board and Staff and the Friends of the Summerland Library Society, held their opening celebration and ribbon cutting for the new Summerland Library on Saturday morning.
The new library branch, at 9355 Main St. in Summerland is more than twice the size of the previous library space, featuring meeting space and study rooms, dedicated space for children and teens, and an outdoor terrace.
The Okanagan Regional Library paid the capital costs of approximately $4.5 million to build the structure and owns the building.
When the doors were opened, close to 200 people flooded into the open, bright, spacious new building.
In her opening words to the crowd, Stephanie Hall, chief executive officer of the Okanagan Regional Library thanked the library and the board of directors for funding the construction of the building.
“They are funding a place for community to gather, for literature and ideas to be freely shared,” she said.
“The public library is a place where regardless of your economic background or social status you are welcome to come and learn…it is truly the people’s university.”
She also thanked the municipality, council and the people of Summerland.
Dan Ashton, MLA for the riding of Penticton, brought greetings and congratulations from the provincial government.
“Please enjoy this gorgeous building and the wonderful staff you have and read lots!”
Mayor Peter Waterman acknowledged councils past and present and former mayor Janice Perrino, for the part they played in working towards a new library.
Playing what he called a critical role, he acknowledged the devotion and perseverance of the Friends of the Library who have kept the idea of a new facility alive for years.
“They did not give up although there were many frustrating periods of uncertainty,” he said.
He thanked head librarian Sue Kline and her staff for providing fantastic programs and services despite severe constraints over time.
He also expressed his appreciation to the ORL for crunching the numbers and for seeing the task through to make the building a reality.
“I also have special personal thanks to the board for being extraordinarily patient as they graciously listened to a number of my passionate comments on behalf of the readers of Summerland to move this project forward,” he said.
Library board chair Catherine Lord thanked the building team, Urban Arts Architecture and Tango Project Management, the suppliers and trades people and the library members.
Architect Shelley Craig said creating the library had been one of the best experiences of her firm’s life.
She said the 15 months it had taken to get the building from concept design to opening had set a record.
Kline thanked her staff, referring to them as her team and a dedicated, determined, conscientious bunch.
“I depend on them for their expertise, their sense of humour and their belief that literacy is life,” she said.
She introduced to the crowd, members of the Friends of the Summerland Library, explaining that they were a group of people who had declared their intention to help build a library, 15 years ago.
“We affectionately call them the fossils (FOSLS),” she said.
Anne Carter, secretary-treasurer of FOSLS, thanked the volunteers involved for their fundraising efforts and the community for their donations.
After the speeches a donor wall was unveiled. It and a feature wall honoring the FOSLS were created by John Topham of Summerland.
“I’m impressed,” said Summerland resident, Ruth Manning. “It is well laid out.”
“Fifteen years in the making is a long time,” said resident Ron Johnson. “It’s very nice. It’s positive for the town.”