Library closure protest set for SDG headquarters this Monday

The sign at the Morewood Library, one of three SD&G branches slated to close next month. Nelson Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

CORNWALL — Opponents of the planned closure of three area library branches say they will protest the impending measure at the upcoming Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Counties Council meeting this Monday, Aug. 22.

The protesters will gather 8:15 a.m. at the United Counties office, 26 Pitt St. in Cornwall, 45 minutes before three residents from the affected communities are slated to address council on the matter, according to a press release issued by closure critics Cal Martin and Jeannie Gagnon.

Late last month, the SD&G Library Board — a body independent of the counties government but reliant on its funding — announced the Sept. 3 closures of the Morewood, St. Andrews West and Dalkeith branches.

“Through this whole process, our communities feel betrayed,” says Cal Martin, who started the ‘Save Our SDG Library Branches’ Facebook page. “People are fed up, and they are making their voices known.”

The group believes that usage levels at those three branches is being downplayed and operating costs exaggerated.

Gagnon, a past vice chair of the Library Board, said the strategic plan used by the Board to justify the cuts actually supports expanding the branches, not cutting them.

As part of the lobbying effort, the group is also promoting a letter-writing campaign aimed at politicians and local media.

The Library board’s closure plan recently sparked the creation of the latest ‘Friends’ group attempting to protect their branch: The Friends of the Morewood Library sprang up last week. “It’s the only activity in town for kids, and it’s the only accessible program we have,” one of the founders, Debbie Courneyea, told Nation Valley News at the time.

Similar uprisings have stymied closure plans the Library board once had for the Williamsburg and South Mountain branches.

The SD&G Library currently operates 18 branches, down from 20 in the early 2000’s. Branches in Moose Creek and North Lancaster (Lancaster Township) have been closed since then.

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