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Declining use closes the book on community library in Florence

The library in Florence will close in March due to poor usage. Materials will be distributed to other libraries. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)
The library in Florence will close in March due to poor usage. Materials will be distributed to other libraries. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)

A small community library in Cape Breton is slated to close due to poor usage and dwindling support.

The J. Wesley Stubbert Library has been a staple of the community of Florence for 73 years. But usage has declined by 63 per cent since 2017.

"There were some days that nobody came through the door," said Lisa Mulak of the Cape Breton Regional Library. "[It's] hard to justify a staff person there when nobody is coming, or maybe it's two people, right?"

Mulak said the library saw an average of 25-30 visitors on a monthly basis over the past few years.

At a meeting in November, area residents and staff with the regional library discussed options to keep the building open. Eight people attended.

Mulak said they were members of the community but not library users.

"They weren't people that were using the library at the time, but … passionate about the community and passionate about having some recreation opportunities there for youth in the community," she said.

Lisa Mulak said during a community meeting in November, eight members of the public attended to support the library, but were not library users.
Lisa Mulak said during a community meeting in November, eight members of the public attended to support the library, but were not library users.

Lisa Mulak said eight people attended a public meeting in November, but none were library users. (Christian Roach/CBC)

Coun. Gordon MacDonald, who represents the area, said the community is sad about losing the space, but he understands the reasoning.

"To see one or two people, sometimes none, come in on the days they were open, I definitely understand the decision of the board."

During the public meeting, MacDonald asked for the regional library's bookmobile to make frequent visits to Florence to help give people, especially seniors, access to reading material.

Mulak said that will be done, but also encouraged people to visit neighbouring libraries in North Sydney and Sydney Mines.

The library will continue to operate until March 21 for picking up books or to have Internet access. After that, materials will be distributed to other branches.

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