Our thoughts are with you in the library community as you deal with your losses.
The explosions that followed a train derailment in Quebec destroyed Lac-Mégantic’s library which house precious archival documents.
It was the result of nearly five years of negotiations and countless grant applications. Everything was in place, and Roy was pleased. But then on Saturday, a train carrying crude oil derailed downtown, causing massive explosions that obliterated many buildings, including the library.
On that day, Lac-Mégantic’s history literally went up in smoke.
Roy first found out about the explosion early Saturday morning when her 85-year-old mother was among the evacuees moved uptown. Her mother lived near the library.
“As soon as she called me to say what happened, I remember thinking ‘My God, the library’s gone.’“
Roy said the loss of the library is of course not at all comparable to the death of a loved one, but a devastating loss to Lac-Mégantic nonetheless.
She was involved in getting the town its very first library, which opened on Frontenac St. downtown in 1991, after lobbying the municipal government for more than two years.
“It was only supposed to be a temporary location, and we ended up staying there for 22 years,” she said, laughing.
In the late ‘90s, the library began a major campaign to collect archival records from residents, believing that the documents should remain in Lac-Mégantic, and not carted off to a storage facility in the nearby city of Sherbrooke.
“Everyone was always very eager to help out because so many people wanted a library here,” said Roy, who mentioned the library had three employees and 45 volunteers.
Roy said she no longer believes the library will be able to open at the new location on time in November, “unless the community really comes together to help out, which is very possible.”
The books should be covered by the insurance, said Roy, but nothing will bring back the archives.
“We lost a huge part of our history, what helped people here better understand their own community,” she said. “It’s nothing short of tragic.”