Rainy River Public Library looking to re-open in new location by end of the year

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer
abradbury@fortfrances.com

After over a year and half of closure, the Rainy River Public Library may soon have a new home.

Pending legal processes and renovations, the library is making plans to move into the former Centra Gas building on Fourth St. in Rainy River.

Because the Library does not have the funds available to purchase a building, the Town of Rainy River is in the process of purchasing the building, which it will then lease to the library.

The Rainy River Library was forced to close when their landlord tripled the rent, and although there had been hopes of using another building in town, that plan didn’t work out.

The hope was to be able to re-open in the former Al-Sew building, but upon inspection it was deemed that the building structure was not appropriate to hold the weight of all of the books in addition to patrons, so that space has been used to store the library’s contents up to this point.

The Chair of the Rainy River Public Library Board Donna Moen says people in town have been asking about the library’s future.

“Whenever I meet people on the street, you know, our patrons are inquiring as to what’s going on,” Moen said. “‘Are we going to have a library? I sure miss it.’ It’s been an integral part of life in Rainy River for 65 years now. So not having it open is a big thing for patrons.”

At this time the building is not as big as they would like for the library but it is well positioned for expansion according to Rainy River Mayor Deb Ewald.

“We know the building and the size of it is just not what we need,” Ewald said.

Ewald says the library has always fallen under the Town’s purview.

“Since it was opened in 1956 it’s always been under the Town,” Ewald said. “So what we will do is look for grants and whatnot, and being under the town’s umbrella, there’s a better chance of [getting funding].”

Before it can open, the building will need a few renovations to make the space compliant, Ewald said.

“We have to put in an (accessible washroom) and doors and stuff,” Ewald said. “There’s some things we can do, just so we can get it open, and then going forward as grants and whatnot become available we’ll expand it as we can.”

Ewald added that the new building will also have sea cans available for storage.

In an effort to get ahead on funding the required renovations, the library used Ontario Public Library week from Oct. 16-22 to launch an online silent auction fundraiser which Moen says was

a success.

“We just had a very successful online silent auction,” She said. “We’ll also be at the Christmas on the River Extravaganza at the Rec. Centre at the beginning of December, and there will be other fundraising opportunities coming up in the future as well.”

Ewald says the purchase deal is still in the hands of lawyers but they’re hopeful that it will be done before the end of November at which time they’d be able to get into the renovation process and hopefully have the library open in December or January.