One of the most important, if not the most important question when discussing the potential new library, is whether or not the public wants it. The library is a public building, built for the public, so their opinion is generally the most important. However, from what we’ve learned and seen so far, there is no concrete yes or no. So now it is important to look at whether or not the public and community will benefit from a new library, but even this is still difficult, as there is no concrete answer, but we can get close to one.
To begin, as seen on the tour, and discussed with Steve Kraft, the current library is not successfully meeting many requirements. It is clear that the size of the building is less than optimal, and also the actual state of the building is not too great either (wet roofs, broken elevator, overall unappealing aesthetics). These are huge problems, there isn’t nearly enough space for the people occupying the building, and the space that is available probably isn’t going to be available for much longer, since it could fall any minute. These are huge problems to maintain, not only concerning the inconvenience for the community members, but also their safety could be at risk. The vision for a future building from the “Customers First” strategic plan, and even from Steve’s own words it a great step forward, as it would add a much needed boost in size, including more technology (computers), more individual space (desks, seating), and even more rooms in general (lecture hall, maker’s space). This also goes well with how Wendy Newman’s shared the idea that libraries are more “community” than “individual”, and more “do” then “get”. This vision definitely improves upon two glaring problems with the current library terrifically, clearly benefiting the public and the community.
However when it comes down to it, that plan involves arguably the main reason why the project has never been fulfilled, and that’s the money. Millions and millions of dollars are going towards this projects, that’s not too great when you look back to when I said there is no concrete yes or no from the public wanting this library. To use such a huge amount of money on a building that isn’t 100% accepted by most of the community is a risk. As mentioned by our guest speakers, many people don’t want a new library simply because they are happy with what they have now. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Well actually, looking at the damages, it would have to be fixed it no matter what…. but fixing damages would be a fraction of the cost of an entirely new library. The remaining money could go towards a different endeavour that is much more generally accepted by the community. Realistically, this could be a viable option, as its hard to justify that amount of money being spent on something that the community doesn’t cohesively agree with.
In conclusion, it is clear that something needs to be done with the public library. It just comes down to what exactly it is. So, I personally would love to see the “Guelph Public Library Project” come to fruition and I agree with almost every, if not every point and idea they are conveying. I believe that it is a perfect idea for a down town library and would be a huge success for the community. However, from a logical standpoint, I don’t believe that this is what the community needs right now. It is difficult to justify this without more community and government support. Like I said before, it comes down to the money, and the community’s choice, and it’s a much smarter idea to put this much money into something else, or don’t do anything with it if the community doesn’t absolutely want anything right now. I don’t think it needs to be a unanimous decision, but I do think that it needs to be much more emphatically accepted by the community, and until it is, I would not agree with the idea to build a new library.