Libraries have always been an important community space where anyone could come to get away and feel as if they are apart of something. Whether it is participating in group activities, studying, surfing the internet, or just sitting quietly with a book, libraries are a safe place for everyone. The city of Guelph contains multiple public libraries, however the downtown branch specifically is in dire need of attention. For years the city has debated building a new library, but nothing has ever been done. It is about time the city reviewed the facts and made a decision regarding the construction of a new library.
Before we can decide whether or not Guelph needs a new downtown public library, we must first determine if the citizens of Guelph actually want or need one. To do this, we must go out and survey people who live in Guelph in order to get their perspective on the services currently provided at the downtown library branch. By asking them questions about how often they use the library and what services are their favorite, we can get a better idea of what the demand is like for a new library in Guelph. Another question to consider before constructing a new library would be whether or not Guelph would benefit more from an online library rather than a physical one. This option would be a lot cheaper and convenient because a building would not need to be built and users could access a wide variety of reading materials at home. However, the major downfall to this idea would be the loss of many other services including quite study places for students and access to computers. If we could compile statistics on who uses the library the most and what services are most important to the community, we would be able to determine if the library could be completely digitized or if we need a new building.
Perhaps the most significant reason a new library has not yet been built is due to cost and an increasingly technology based society. Constructing a new library will be very costly and the city does not want to put money into a building when everyone may be fully reliant on digitized material in a couple years. Building a new library would not only cost a lot to construct, but it would also have to be filled with modern technology and a larger selection of books to fit the bigger space. With such a large price tag attached to a new library and many different factors to consider, the city must carefully think it through before making a decision.
Ultimately, I believe Guelph should build a new downtown public library. The current downtown branch is not in great condition, with many safety and health concerns including ceiling leaks, crowding, and old tiles, which contain asbestos. Other problems include limited access to things such as washrooms for the elderly and disabled, limited seating and computer space, and a fire alarm that is not connected to the fire station. Individuals such as Steve Kraft (CEO of downtown branch) and Wendy Newman who are both executive members in the library system proclaim the library is still used by a large portion of the community and a digital library is not something that will happen in the next few years. People enjoy the community aspect of a physical library and it provides many with services such as computers that they may not have access to at home. Essentially, libraries are still important and relevant in the 21st century and a new downtown library branch must be built to ensure Guelph maintains its sense of community.