The last 1,000 library books from the closed Fort Coulonge Library are being given away

Library books from a small town in the Pontiac region of Quebec are about to be checked out for the last time and with no due date.

“This used to be our library, unfortunately we had to close,” said Fort Coulonge, Que. Mayor Christine Francoeur, while standing in the space that was formerly the library.

The town about a 120 km west of Ottawa is giving the remaining books away, after the library closed its doors for the final time in December, according to the mayor.

“It was a hard decision to make, it’s something we’ve been talking about for a couple of years already at the council table,” she says.

The town has a population of about 1,300. Francoeur says the library costs around $42,000 annually to operate and, after years of declining use, a decision had to be made.

“We have less than three per cent of the population using our library and the ones that were coming in, most of the time was just to use the internet, not even to borrow books.”

More than 5,000 books have been returned to a larger regional library network in the Outaouais. Approximately 1,000 books are left. Residents of the town only are invited to pick them up over two days this week.

“Residents of Fort Coulonge have already paid for these books in their taxes, so I think they should have first choice,” said Francoeur.

She says this isn’t the first library in the area to close its doors — she adds that nearby Campbell’s Bay closed its library around two years ago.

Residents in the town have mixed feelings about losing their local library.

“It’s going to be a sad thing for kids around here,” said one resident.

“I think it’s really important that we have that service. It’s awful that we don’t have it,” said another.

One woman said, “I’m a person that didn’t go because we do everything with this today,” as she points to her iPhone.

According to the mayor, residents can pick up books on Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. and Thursday from 3 to 9 p.m. at the library and administration building at 134 rue Principale, closing a chapter many wish had a happier ending.

“People that did use the library will be missing it a lot,” said Francoeur. 

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