The municipality of East Ferris recently received a $79,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the money is earmarked for the public library. Nipissing MP Vic Fedeli announced the funding on April 20. He announced $921,300 in funding grants that day for 11 local organizations “to help them offset the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Specifically, these funds were doled out from the Resilient Communities Fund, a fund created within the Trillium Foundation “to help your non-profit organizations rebuild from the impacts of Covid-19 and effectively meet the changing needs of your community,” the foundation explains on its website.
Jennifer Laporte, the library’s CEO, mentioned the funds will be used to help purify the air, allow for better sanitation, and create more space within the library to facilitate social distancing amongst patrons.
Currently, the library has a central HVAC system to ensure air quality. There is also a portable HVAC unit within the library, and the board plans to purchase a second unit. These can be rolled into different rooms when needed.
As for the sanitation, when Covid’s first wave crashed, the library initiated an enhanced cleaning protocol. The extra cleaning led to increased wastewater, and there wasn’t an ideal means to dispose of it, save for one of the bathroom sinks or the kitchen sink located in the small staff area.
This funding, Laporte explained, allows the library board to add a janitorial closet—complete with sink—to drain away the dirty water. This new addition will be added to the public washroom, located to the left of the front entrance. There are no plans to expand the building, but by modifying the existing space, there will be enough room to build the custodial closet.
Laporte mentioned there is a book drop off area next to the existing bathroom, and if that space is needed for the closet, the board would consider building a secure drop-off box outside. The new closet will also allow a space to store the library’s cleaning supplies. Currently, all of those are stored in the staff washroom.
Discussions are underway with an architect to see how this new space can fit into the existing building, and the renovation should get underway this summer.
The final project will help open the space within the library—a new shed is coming. With social distancing on the minds of many, staff have done all they can to make a little more room in the library. The freestanding shed will allow staff to store surplus furniture, and the space will “be very beneficial to us.”
“It will allow us to have control over our space,” Laporte said, “because right now, the furniture controls our space.” Chairs are stacked by the stacks and excess furniture clutters rooms used for programming. Overall, the funding will make the library more comfortable for patrons, many of whom remain concerned about the spread of Covid.
There will be “more space for people who are still nervous about Covid to feel more comfortable,” she emphasized, noting these changes may help “chip away those last apprehensions about Covid.” Laporte also reminded patrons that the library’s patio area is open, and with the nice weather coming, people can sit outside, use the wi-fi, and have library materials brought to them in the comfort of the fresh air.
Last summer the library had hopes of attaining funding to install a large awning over the ramp entrance, but Laporte said that project did not qualify for this Trillium funding, so the awning remains on hold.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.