EMBRUN – It looks like the township of Russell could see a new library in Embrun sooner than later.

“Libraries are so much more than just a place to go get books, so I’m happy with the two-branch idea,” Coun. Mike Tarnowski said. Several of his council colleagues agreed.

In a presentation to local politicians during the Nov. 15 council meeting, township of Russell Public Library Board’s Isabelle St. Amour recommended a two-branch library system, which included keeping the current Russell branch and adding a 7,500 square foot ground floor branch in the new recreation complex in Embrun. Following a lengthy conversation, council was on board with the two-branch system, but with potential costs and timing leaving things undecided, further options were suggested.

A significant portion of the conversation included a breakdown in costs for different scenarios, as well as a comparison between the cost of one large central system and two smaller but separate libraries. St. Amour discussed operational costs, including staffing, for the different options.

“My only concern in starting to address other locations is that this falls to the bottom of the priority list once again,” Tarnowski said, emphasizing that he doesn’t want to see the installation of a library in Embrun continuously deferred. “My biggest concern is I didn’t want to get caught up in things that are going to slow this process down. It’s something that I really believe we need here in Embrun.”

Councillor Cindy Saucier agreed, noting that a new branch is needed. Councillor Jamie Laurin said looking at further location options shouldn’t delay the construction of a new library any later than the time set for the recreation complex.

Leroux, who was not initially in favour of the two-branch system for financial reasons, said if council is going to look at an alternative location, then a new library in Embrun could be operational before the recreation complex is completed. He suggested using the community hall.

“It would have to be guaranteed that there is that community space in the rec. complex. I know it’s not used very often during the year but when it is used, it’s well used. It’s an important part of the community. It was developed by volunteers. There’s a lot of passion involved in that particular building,” Tarnowski said. “So, I like the idea. I think it’s an interesting idea. Space-wise it certainly fits the criteria. Obviously, the library board would have to look at it, but it certainly does bring it into the community.”

Councillor André Brisson also supported the idea. He suggested that a report be brought back to council outlining the variables and associated cost.

“I think we should be getting staff’s opinion on that most definitely,” Leroux agreed.

Leduc said the township’s hall needs have changed significantly and this could be a viable option. He said director of parks and recreation Céline Guitard, would need to contact the hall’s current users for feedback first, but staff could investigate the efficacy of the suggestion and bring a report back to council.

“I think the important part of this is to remember that we’re not getting rid of the hall, we are giving the hall another vocation,” Guitard said. “Maybe having the library there, I think it would be a great new asset to the township. I think it would definitely be a good project, a feasible project, when you’re looking into being cost efficient.”

St. Amour’s presentation can be found in the Nov. 15 council agenda package. A link to the virtual meeting can be found on Russell’s website calendar page.