County Art Goes To Auction For Picton’s Carnegie Library Renewal

“It’s overdue…time to renew” is the phrase that’s on a lot of County lips of late. This time, however, the renewal in question concerns more than that great book you’ve read, but keep forgetting on the hall table when you head into town.

Built in 1906, the Picton Carnegie Library was one of about 2,500 libraries in over ten countries all named after their founding benefactor—the great philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In one of the most wide-spread and substantial acts of social generosity in history, these buildings, scattered over 4 continents, are the physical legacy of civic pride and lifelong learning. Unlike the spirit of philanthropy, however, bricks and mortar deteriorate and after over a century of use we find our library in need of an update. 

“Autumn Glory” by Andrew Innes, 2017 (24”x 24”) Oil on acrylic on canvas

Largest of the six branches that make up The County of Prince Edward Public Library and Archives, the Picton Carnegie Library is a focal point on Main St, beautiful despite (or because of) its age. In the campaign to renew the building, the utmost care will be taken to preserve the building’s historic elements, while maximizing comfort and utility, not to mention a three-story addition at the rear, that will include a lecture theatre, a living wall, and a sound recording studio. In the heart of a thriving artistic and intellectual scene, these facilities will be heartily embraced and well utilized. In other words: it’s time to get excited about the future of the Picton Library, even as we celebrate its past. 

In the spirit of that excitement, one of our major Spring fundraising initiatives (as we close in on our Summer groundbreaking) is Renew—an online art auction bringing together both new and historic pieces, featuring both local artists and ones from the wider art world. 

Some Quick Facts

  • The Renew launch gala will take place at the Drake Devonshire Hotel on March 31st from 6-10pm. 
  • This is your chance to get a sneak peek at some of the work before the auction goes live that night and gear up for the opening of the auction at midnight.
  • There will also be pieces displayed at the Devonshire in advance, so make sure to ask the staff to point them out the next time you’re in for dinner!
  • Renew will include more than 100 works, expertly curated by the inimitable Hri Neil from Carbon Art & Design.
  • The auction will be live for a full month, from April 1st at 12am to April 30th at noon.
  • If you can’t make it to the Gala, come out online to browse and bid to your heart’s content. 
  • For assistance placing bids, library staff can assist you at any of the branches.
  • We will announce the winners on April 30th.

The auction is set up so that all bids will be blind, with high and low estimates to guide you. We chose this method in the hopes that our patrons and art-lovers will bid close to or above the ‘high’ estimate, with the view not only to secure their chosen piece but also to support the Library’s future.

“3 and 1” by Annik Despres (30” x 36”) Oil on canvas

​Because really, the Library’s future is the County’s future. Future generations of County kids benefit immeasurably from a healthy and robust library system, where free programs abound and early literacy in both books and technology is reinforced at every turn. For the older demographic, libraries are equally vital. Our patrons can make an appointment for tech help; they can join one of our many social educational groups, from French to Scrabble to Genealogy, fostering meaningful connections with others in their community. Even if those who are homebound can have books, audio, and DVDs delivered to their door.

And that’s what the library already has on offer, but with the expansion of the Picton Branch, these services will expand exponentially. That book you were going to buy online? We can order it from any other library across Ontario, including university libraries. Looking to expand your interests? We have programs and workshops on everything from language learning to photography to essential oils, not to mention literary events from book launches to visiting authors. 

If there was ever a time to get curious about what goes on behind the library’s lovely yellow-gold front door, this is it. Go to for details and to buy your Gala tickets—and don’t forget to bookmark the site for the auction. 

Cover photo: “Winter Perspective” by Stew Jones, 2019. Oil on Panel (8×8)
Stew is spring’s new Artist-in-Residence for LIFE AU LAIT
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