Petrolia’s bookstore has a new look and greatly improved accessibility for its customers after a $100,000 renovation made earlier this year.
On June 22, dignitaries, library workers, local residents and at least one special guest attended a ribbon-cutting party and reception to celebrate those renovations at the 119-year-old Petroleum Heritage Building, the city’s historic former train station.
The five-week project cost about $100,000, and was funded primarily through a bequest from the estate of Otto and Kathleen (Cunningham) Schuldt, said Andrew Mayer, director general of Lambton County Cultural Services. The renovations were completed as part of a partnership between the governorate and the City of Petrolia.
Changes to the library include new shelves, interactive floors and displays in the children’s library, refinishing of the facility’s wood floors, new paint, new furnishings as well as a new, accessible service desk in a new location.
New features also include a new early literacy computer station designed to assist the educational needs of two- to eight-year-olds as well as a new, accessible location for public computer workstations.
Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey, Lambton County Warden Kevin Marriott and Petrolia Mayor Brad Loosley made remarks at the ceremony, praising the Schuldt family’s generosity while praising the library’s new layout and upgrades.
“This library has a long history of serving the citizens of Petrolia and Enniskillen,” Marriott said. “The renovations have helped modernize our spaces while maintaining the unique character of this heritage building.”
“We thank (the Schuldt family) for their kindness and vision… to improve facilities for all user groups… at no cost to the city,” Lusley said. “We also thank the county and all involved in this process.”
After cutting the ribbon, Mayer said the county and city want to make the Petrolia Library a more user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, as well as accessible space for the thousands who use the facility each year.
“The motivation behind (the renovations) in this library is some improvement in accessibility,” he said. “We knew we needed to improve our service counter. The municipality made sure to do some general maintenance on the site – fixing some windows, refinishing the floors – and this gave us the opportunity to check out everything and look at the design to make sure it was accessible.
“And the opportunity afforded by the Scholdt family’s ownership allowed the city and county to come together and look at the building and see what was really needed for the community,” Mayer added. “The district was able to add some interactive features for kids as well, so it really allows us to serve all categories of residents in Petrolia and the region.”
Ronald Baker, a former Petrolia librarian, also participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Mayer said Baker was head of the library when she joined the Lambton County Library System in 1967.
“It was great to have Ronald Baker with us today,” he said. “Before 1967, there was a library in Petrolia, but that was the year she joined the Lambton County Library System, and he was at the helm. So it was great to have him with us and make him celebrate with us.”
Baker said he liked the new look of the library
“Everything was brown and dark in the day,” he said with a smile. “Now I’m open and friendly… It’s good to see progress.”