County starts negotiations to buy libraries

Wellington County is going to try to pur­chase the remaining Carnegie libraries from local munici­palities.

After a closed council session on April 24, councillors voted unanimously to begin negotiations with the lower tier municipalities that own such libraries.

There are Carnegie libraries located in Fergus, Elora, Har­riston, Palmerston, and Mount Forest.

The libraries were gifts to each of those communities from American industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who used libraries as an impoverished youth to educate himself.

He  became one of the richest entrepreneurs in the late 1800s, and into the first third of the 20th century.

He gave away millions of dollars in new libraries in the United States, Canada, and Eur­ope, spending much of his fortune of over $400-million for free library buildings.

The motion council passed stated the county would pay a nominal sum of $2 for each of the five buildings.

There is also a proviso in the agreement that if the county ever stops using the historic buildings as librar­ies, they will be turned back to the local municipalities for the same nominal fee.

Library committee chair­man Brad Whitcombe said in an interview after the meeting that the county is now in nego­tiations with the municipalities.

He said, “At the end of the day, it would be nice if the county ended up with ownership of all its libraries.”