Thoughts So Far – Guelph Library Project

It has been only five weeks into the Guelph Library Project and I have just started to realize what some of the big issues were, regarding the GPL downtown library. From what I understand, in the past this project has been very fitful and has not seen much success. Now that I have seen and heard more, I have a general idea of what some of the key issues are and what some of the solutions can be.

There have been a few different things influencing my decision as to whether or not the, downtown branch needs a new facility. The first influence is my analysis of the Guelph Public Library strategic plan, which I found some issues with regarding the overall tone of the plan. It seemed very artificial and I didn’t feel like it reflected the interests of the people. It included a lot of numbers (statistics) and words like ‘customer’ and ’economic’ which can appear unappealing to a library goer. Secondly, there was the tour of the downtown library, which opened my eyes more to the issue. There, I was an eye-witness to the problems that were happening to the physical composition of the library, from the appearance, the internal structure and even to the function of needed facilities. The third influence was the insightful opinion and advice from Wendy Newman. Ms. Newman showed us her point of view through the lens of library sciences and she outlined some areas that a library would need attention. She explained a few ‘library spectrum’s’, which helped me to understand what libraries have become and what the role of a library is now in the 21st century

It does not end there however; we must consider a few other things. We still need to get the opinion of the people who will pay taxes toward it and the opinion of people who are affected most by it. The library is a public service built for the people, it is run by the people and their opinion matters most. This is one of the missing links we (the Guelph Library Project Team) still need to complete the picture. Another thing we need to consider is the opinion of the city council and mayor; whom I hope to meet and hear what they have to say about this project. So far the opinions I have heard have been very one-sided (pro-library), so in the future I hope to get a different point of view so I can get everyone’s perspective on the issue. The last piece of the puzzle I need, is to understand the community’s goals. I need to know the aspirations of the community and what they want to see moving forward; what they see in their future, their children’s future and beyond.

At this point, I know that something has to be done about the building itself, whether it is tearing it down and building a new one or doing some heavy renovations. But, I still have a lot more questions that I need to be answered before making any other verdicts.

H. Dwyer

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