The Essex County Library operates a system of 14 branch libraries that provide library materials and services, free of charge, to all residents of Essex County. The Essex County Library welcomes you to a world of discovery, creativity and lifelong learning through accessible resources, programs and innovative services. (2013 Mission Statement)
Library facilities are provided by the local municipality with one facility located in each of Amherstburg, LaSalle, Leamington and Tecumseh, three facilities in both Essex and Kingsville and four in Lakeshore. While the local municipalities provide the facility for the Library branches, the Essex County Library Board is responsible for furnishing the inside of the buildings with shelving, furniture, equipment, library resources and employs the staff who deliver all the services the Essex County Library provides.
Library administration offices are located in the lower level of 360 Fairview Avenue West, Essex in Suite 101. Administration, computer network services, ordering and processing of library materials are centralized there, so branches can focus exclusively on serving the public during hours that range from 60 hours a week at the largest branches to 12 at the smallest. Primarily only library staff access the library administration offices.
Beginning in 2008, the LaSalle, Leamington and Tecumseh branches began to have Sunday hours in addition to their regular weekday and Saturday hours of operation. Sunday hours are not, however, available during the months of June, July, August and September.
The Essex County Library is funded primarily through the County of Essex. The Library’s annual budget totals approximately $4,600,000 with wages and benefits comprising 69% and library materials about 18%.
A Library Board, appointed every four years by Essex County Council, in accordance with the Public Libraries Act, has four members from the current County Council. The Board is responsible for setting policy and reviewing the overall performance of the Library. The Board’s budget is approved annually by County Council.
Municipal restructuring has meant that all public library services in the County are now provided through the Essex County Library. County residents can access the resources of the entire system through any branch library. In 2011 the Essex County Library moved to a VOIP telephone system. Residents can call 226-946-1529 to reach any of the library branches in the system. No long distance charges apply.
The local municipalities have been striving to address the physical barriers that exist in some of the older library facilities in order to make the buildings more accessible for all patrons. In some instances, like in the Town of Essex, library branches have been relocated to more accessible buildings. The Town of Kingsville opened a new branch in February 2010, replacing the inaccessible Carnegie Library. The new McGregor Library opened in 2011 as part of the Town of Essex Community Centre. Replacement facilities for the Town of LaSalle, Lakeshore and Woodslee will open in 2013 and 2014.
The Essex County Library Board expanded and enhanced their on-line library services by providing eAudioBooks and eBooks, downloadable music and magazines available for download through their website. As well as the online resources available, they have books in large print format and DVDs with closed captioning. A recent partnership with CNIB allows residents who are print disabled to have access to over 80,000 items in the CNIB collection.
To take advantage of the on-line services offered by the Essex County Library, visit their web site at Essex County Library.