The new recreation complex, to be located near the existing sports dome, includes plans for a library. The space is designed to be a new home for the Embrun branch of the township’s library, which has been temporarily located at the École élémentaire catholique Embrun for years.
At a recent Russell council meeting, councillors discussed whether or not to rule out an amalgamation of the Embrun branch with the Russell village branch at the new site. A decision on whether the Russell village branch will remain at its current site on Concession Street is expected to be made later this year.
Russell residents Jane Patterson and Lynda Kemp, who are members of a nine-person book club, said the local library branch was an essential part of the village. The book club members have set up the ‘Save the Russell Library’ website and Facebook page to demonstrate their support for the branch remaining in place.
Kemp said the library had been essential to the book club, both before and during the pandemic. The proximity to residents, central location, and ease of access made it a popular fixture in the community, she said.
“With the growing population of Russell, there’s so many young families moving into Russell from the city, so we would like to keep this library to accommodate the new people as well as the old,” she said. “This is also a gathering place for the community. There is kind of a grassroots within the community support for the library.”
The organizers said they supported the proposed permanent home for the Embrun library, but said amalgamation would reduce access for residents who were currently able to walk, ride, or use their wheelchair to access the local branch.
“It’s important that the residents in Embrun have something close to them as well,” Patterson said. “They’ve been extremely patient with their situation. We know how important it is for a location to be walkable, and something that is more easily accessible.”
In a message on the group’s website, Save Russell Library said the branch provided access to the internet, was a cooling centre during extreme heat events, and was one of the only township sites in the village with regular, year-round opening hours.
Patterson said reaction from residents had been receptive to the idea of maintaining a library branch in the village. “There was a lot of shock and an overwhelming feeling of need to ensure that didn’t happen,” she said. “We really feel this was something that was so important to us and others in the community.”