ANTIGONISH: A local librarian said residents want community hubs like libraries where they can learn, get together, and celebrate.

Eric Stackhouse, chief librarian with the Pictou Antigonish Regional Library, offered a talk entitled “Public Libraries, Community, and the Future” at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Antigonish as part of the church’s Epistles Speakers Series.

The crux of his speech was an overview of local library services, how the services changed over the years, the different approaches taken in Pictou and Antigonish counties and where libraries are heading.

“They are still doing what they’ve traditionally done and that’s offer reading materials, and offer reference and research,” said Stackhouse.

“They’re becoming more community places where people gather for learning activities and to do a lot of different things. I think they always were that but we’re now finding that… even in these times of technology and social media, people really long to get together and be with own another and learn.”

Stackhouse said he feels the future is good for libraries, noting local residents and municipalities continue to support the facilities.

“[Municipalities] have stepped up to the plate many times when maybe the province hasn’t stepped up to the plate, in terms of funding and other things,” he said. “Really, I think it’s almost a renaissance. Now we’re finding people want our services more and more.”

Funding continues to be a struggle, said Stackhouse, but he feels there is progress. He said residents offered a voice in favour of libraries before and during the recent provincial election.

“The government did provide one-time funding to all of the regions of $52,000 each but it was one-time funding,” he said.

“Now we need to move beyond that and look at a sustainable future for funding and how that’s going to look. I was just at a meeting with government representatives and I do believe there is a bit of a newfound willingness to work towards something. However, time will tell.”