The oldest public library in Ontario, the Guelph Public Library is a place that residents can go to sit down and enjoy a good book, access the internet, or simply take advantage of a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. These all sound like things any decent library should be able to provide for their town, but is the GPL able to live up to these standards in its current condition? Some loyal, frequent customers may say so, but evidence proves otherwise. After getting a behind-the-scenes look into the library’s back rooms and work spaces, it is clear to me that the GPL is long overdue for an upgrade. Even if you were to look past the crowded facilities, cluttered work spaces, and overall unpleasant appearance of the building, it cannot be ignored that there are some serious- not to mention potentially dangerous- maintenance issues to be considered. Restricted accessibility, infrastructural problems, and town archives one flood away from destruction are just a few of the obvious reasons Guelph is in desperate need of a new public library. The small, aging facility can no longer provide the services a proper library should, and with the ever-growing population of Guelph, more space is essential.
So, do I think Guelph should go forward in the plan to build the new downtown library? Absolutely- but it isn’t really up to me. Residents of Guelph are the most significant factor in this plan and so it is important to gain insight on their ideas and opinions. My classmates and I hope to go out and survey the public to be able to get an idea of what they think of a new library, as well as whether or not they would use it and what they would like to see it potentially become. Do people want a more innovative, technology-based service, or do they want a classic, comfortable atmosphere citizens can go to gather as a community? This information will allow us to go forward and determine whether or not a new library is a good idea in terms of public demand and, if it is, what it should provide as a facility.
The reconstruction of a new main library has been in discussion for around twenty years now which begs the question: why has Guelph not built one yet? The GPL’s CEO Steve Kraft presented his vision of the new downtown library- and it’s looking great so far; so what’s stopping the town from making the investment? The simple, straightforward answer is cost. The expense of constructing any new building in the heart of a growing city is going to be substantial. When considering all the reasons why the current library just isn’t cutting it anymore, however, it seems that building this new facility for the town should be a priority.
Something residents need to consider is the very real possibility of the current library falling to pieces- literally. Because the building is so old, there are dozens of maintenance issues that need to be immediately addressed and, even if they were individually handled, there would sure be more to come. The GPL can’t afford to keep putting band-aids on its structural problems as it is becoming a serious safety issue to everyone in the building. Everything considered, there simply aren’t enough feasible reasons to not go forward with the plan of building the new library.