Library re-opening helps community recover

Topics: Alberta
Shelly Makrugin | December 21, 2015

The re-opening of High River’s restored library represents another milestone in the town’s recovery from the 2013 floods. Recently, the rebuilt and renovated High River Centennial Library officially opened its doors again.

The Canadian Red Cross, Town of High River, Calgary Foundation and Government of Alberta came together to fund the rebuild project and ensure the community’s hub for education, programming, and gatherings would not be lost forever to the flood waters.

“We’re very, very grateful to the Red Cross,” says Diane Porter, chairperson of the library board. “When you go through something like this, it is very humbling. The help we got from many, many sources ... all just have meant a lot.”

The library is one of the projects funded by the Red Cross Community Grants Program created to assist people in communities affected by the Alberta floods of 2013. The library has new interior windows and doors, program areas, upgraded duct work that now accentuates the cathedral ceiling, as well as improvements to accessibility for the disabled.

“We are so pleased for the people of High River and happy we were able to assist,” says Jenn McManus, Red Cross vice president of Alberta. “We continue to work with individuals and communities in their ongoing recovery.”

“It’s one of those things you don’t really understand how important it is until it’s gone,” says High River mayor Craig Snodgrass. “Any library in any community is kind of a central hub for a lot of people.” Porter agrees, saying: “There was a huge hole in the community ... It is really a place where people go to find solace.”

Still, the book collection must be rebuilt. The library will continue to work with its partners in the regional library system, who have been supportive through the recovery process.

“It feels like we’re home,” says head librarian Deb Gardiner. As people visit, Gardiner says, “They just wander around with big smiles on their faces.”
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