A New Public Library for Guelph

It’s evident that something needs to be done regarding the downtown public library in Guelph. If that means moving to a new location and building a whole new library from scratch. One that would meet all the new standards and would have enough space for all of the new improvements they want the new library to include. Some say that might cost too much and a better option would be to renovate the current library. Although through what I have witnessed by taking a behind the scenes tour of the library as it is now, and through listening to Steve Craft’s vision for the new library, building a new library, even though the cost may be a steep, would be the better option in the long run.

Someone may ask, why can’t they just renovate the current library with the improvements they want to make? The reason that idea would not be able to happen is because there simply isn’t anymore space for improvements. With the space they have it is already cramped, scattered and the areas are poorly placed. For example the children’s section is on the second floor. This makes families that have little children walk up a flight of steps, and if they have a stroller, which many families do, there is only one elevator which is tiny and very old. Another problem with the layout is the accessibility resources are minimal to none. The library is definitely not accessibility friendly as the only accessibility washroom is also on the second floor, and as I said the only elevator at this library is on the verge of breaking. The problem is that these problems can’t be fixed as there is no where to put them in a more accessible area because the library is at space capacity.

Is a new library that necessary? The necessity of a new library has become very obvious over the past couple years. There are many problems structurally with the current library such as leaks in the ceiling, which have caused floods on occasion. Floods are disastrous in libraries as if the books or computers get wet, they are ruined. There are also archives in the basement of the library which would be impossible to replace in the case of a flood. It is also not a welcoming space for people. It doesn’t look like somewhere that someone could feel at home in. It is very out-dated, other than the 3-D printer and computers, which are very limited. There are hardly any windows, which is a key part in making a place feel welcoming, with natural light flooding in. Referring to Steve Craft (CEO of the Guelph Public Library), who said it is fundamental for a public library to have a sense of comfort so that users can feel welcome and at ease. Having a welcoming library would be the primary reason people stay and continue to return.

As Wendy Newman, the former CEO and now the Chief Librarian of the Branford Public Library, who has extensive knowledge on 21st century libraries made clear, libraries are starting to change from being an individualized place, where the only thing happening are transactions, to being more of a community space, where people can come together and have activities, a place for more than just taking books out. This means  the new library would need to include more space for groups to get together whether that is teenagers who need study space or adults to have regularly scheduled activities. Libraries should be changing as the human race changes and the Guelph Public Library hasn’t been. As a result it is now stuck in the past and needs to catch up with this now digitalized world.

Cost. The main reason as to why this project hasn’t moved forward in the past years. This new building will cost millions of dollars, this may be a concern for taxpayers who believe their money could be put towards something more important than a new library especially seeing how much in the end it will cost. But hopefully reading this and the thoughts of many others, will show that the new public library is needed desperately for the city of Guelph.

-Emma Snow


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