Submitted by the North Grenville Library Board
This year, the North Grenville Public Library marks the 10th anniversary of the Norenberg Building, that jewel of a facility located in the heart of Old Town Kemptville. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the celebrations will be subdued, but there will be a panel display commemorating some of the major milestones that led to its completion. Residents will have the opportunity to view the display at the library beginning this Labour Day Weekend, as part of the downtown celebrations.
For those who may have forgotten about how Norenberg Building came to be, or for those relatively new to the community, here is a brief history.
Planning for the new building commenced years before 2011, and the momentum began in earnest with the creation in 2008 of the “Room to Read” Campaign, a fund-raising effort coordinated by a dedicated and tireless committee. The campaign’s objective was to raise $750,000 from the community. That amount, plus the $1.3 million secured from both the federal and provincial governments under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, was deemed to be sufficient to build the new library. In the end, the Room to Read campaign secured some $930,000 in pledges from residents, local businesses, and local service organizations. Such an outpouring of support! Space does not allow for a full account of all the steps that were taken to erect the Norenberg Building. Even so, it bears mentioning that an immense amount of study and work went into determining the site, acquiring the property, agreeing on a design, hiring an architect, etc. All those who participated in these considerable efforts are owed an equally considerable amount of gratitude.
It is also impossible to name all the people who then took it upon themselves to donate money, goods and services, or time to reach the fund-raising goal. Worth noting is the Norenberg Family, for whom the building is named, who donated $150,000 for the Library. The Norenbergs have been involved in several local businesses, and they have always made sure to give back to the community. For those who wish to view the names of those who made monetary contributions, they can consult the donor book on display at the library, or they may view it on the NGPL’s website: https://ngpl.ca.
The campaign owed much to the energy and enthusiasm of the many volunteers who gave their time: The Room to Read Campaign Committee and its Chair, Bill McElrea; the Friends of the North Grenville Public Library and its committed Board, including the late Dr. Patrick Babin; and, the Library Board and its leadership, who went above and beyond the call of duty. Municipal council and staff, library staff, local businesses and service clubs, and provincial representatives were wonderfully supportive every step of the way. And, of course, the person who served as an anchor and bridge for the project was then-Library CEO, Sue Higgins. Her dedication, tireless efforts, and unwavering enthusiasm for the project ensured its success.
All of these, and many more, embody what is good about this community. They saw the benefits of having a new library building, and were willing to work toward making it a reality.
The success could, and can, be seen in terms of the number of people who make use of the facility each year. In addition to borrowing books and other items, there is programming for young and old alike, computers, free wi-fi, meeting spaces, and space simply to relax and enjoy the library.
The Norenberg Building was officially opened on May 28, 2011, and was the highlight of that year’s Dandelion Festival. Crowds gathered to hear speeches, watch the official ribbon-cutting, and to enjoy a piece of an immense cake that had been made to mark the auspicious occasion.
Library board members, library staff, politicians, and municipal employees can conceptualize and plan for a new library building. It takes a community, however, to build and sustain it. And this is exactly what happened in North Grenville. The Norenberg Building represents the collective efforts of a caring community, and it belongs to all of us – it is yet another reason why North Grenville is such a wonderful place to live. As Room to Read Chair, Bill McElrea, said at the opening ceremonies, “Enjoy our new library. And it is all of ours, so enjoy it.” The Norenberg Building continues to be our place.