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Kentville branch manager Julie Johnson shows a member of the Kentville Rotary Club around the former sanctuary while construction occurs.
KENTVILLE NS – Bells were ringing in the old United Church on Nov. 17 in Kentville when the library branch was announced as the winner of this year’s This Place Matters competition.
Branch staff rang the bell 40 times after learning the news to celebrate the $40,000 prize. Close to $60,000 in crowd funding has also been raised.
“It couldn’t have been done without the support of the community. A huge thanks to everyone who voted, donated, and spread the word,” said branch manager Julie Johnson. “We are so proud of Kentville.”
As the 7 p.m. deadline on Nov. 16 to vote and donate neared, the community stepped up and put them into the winning category, noted Ann-Marie Mathieu, chief administrative officer of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library.
As the winners, the Friends of the Kentville Library will use the prize monies for the children’s area in the new library, but crowd funding will have a discretional usage.
In a release, the Friends of the Library praised the community for help winning the contest.
"We are thrilled by the level of support we received and the fact that the entire larger community got involved, from pre-schoolers through to seniors and everyone in-between. We are proud to say that we received more individual votes than any other project across Canada, including the cities with much larger populations than Kentville," the release from the group said.
"In addition, we raised over $57,000 from individuals, groups and local businesses. When combined with the $40,000 from the National Trust for Canada, the total amount raised through this project is nearly $100,000 for the library renovations in the beautiful historic church building."
The group has already raised over $21,000 for the youth section, through the contributions and publicity of Canadian author Margaret Atwood and the support of many individuals.
"This is a win for libraries but moreover it is a win for our community, and a true testament to people coming together and proving how much this community place matters. We look forward to working with the Annapolis Valley Regional Library to build a beautiful and safe space for the children of Kentville and Kings County to read, relax and explore," the Friends of the Library said in its press release.
The Friends of the Kentville Library worked their guts out on this project, said Mathieu. They distributed handouts all over town, they went to schools, businesses, community events.
Impromptu fundraisers were held and they sent Facebook and email reminders. The Friends coordinated dozens of children asking for donations while trick-or-treating, elementary, middle school, and high school kids voting while at school, college and university students, staff and faculty voting.
They also provided support through bake sale goodies and many other ways, like knitting groups donating their time and creations, authors taking time to come out and read at special events, Mathieu explained.
“There’s even a special new sandwich made and named for the library by a local café. Countless individuals throughout Kentville and beyond all voting and donating, and seniors' communities taking up a collection to contribute their support.”
She said she even found herself at the emergency unit of the hospital and there were handouts there about voting in the competition.
Inspiring and incredible is how the Friends of the Kentville Library described the community response to this project.
“The Annapolis Valley Regional Library is proud to be part of a community that values their library, and we look forward to working with the Friends on creating an amazing space for children in the new library”, said Mathieu.
“The community really does believe this place matters,” she said, imagining a conga line of celebratory dancers on the lawn outside the branch.
In fact, Mathieu believes Kentville has national bragging rights now, having achieved this win along with renowned author Margaret Atwood’s backing.