Guelph’s Potential New Downtown Library

A new library is always nice. Sometimes they are built as an upgrade of their predecessors and sometimes they are a necessity. As for the future of Guelph’s new downtown library, much is still up to debate. The current library, although old and outdated – having an elevator from around 1965 – still seems to get the job done. On a daily basis, many people flock to the facility, and based on google reviews, averaging at 4.7 stars out of 5 as of October 6th, 2015, many seem to be pleased. Even when it comes to the number of items signed out, Guelph Public Library’s stats are impressive. In fact, when compared to many of the libraries in Toronto – yes, even those in Downtown – Guelph Public Library comes on top when it comes to the number of item borrowed per month – enough that approximately 20 items could be signed out by each individual in Guelph – as mentioned by Dan Atkins, the Director of Operations at GPL. However, even though successful in its own way, some might say that building a new public library is a necessity. During our tour of the library, it was easily noticeable that the library needed many changes. There was hardly any space, even staff seemed to find it an annoyance. The building, being from the mid-20th century, did seem to need upgrades to facilitate many of today’s modern needs ranging from disability accessibility to electrical. However, building a new library never comes cheap, and with Steve Kraft’s current vision, a possible 90 million dollars and 10 years of construction may be a little hard to fathom, especially by those financially backing up the idea. However, the idea does have its pros along with some cons and could possibly be a new treasure for the city of Guelph.

Now, why might one want a new public library in Guelph? Well, according to Wendy Newman, a former president of the Canadian Library Association and the Canadian Association of Public Libraries, libraries are have been and are going to continue to progress into a more community oriented facility where people can do more rather than simply sign out an item. In other words, new libraries should not just be facilities where people borrow items and return them, instead, there should be workshops, community events, places where people can work together, interact, and much more. The current Guelph Public Library, even though being community oriented and inviting, lacks the ability for people of the community to do things due to limited space and accessibility issues. Even though the library has great stats when it comes to borrowed items, it does not seem to have any other noticeable wow factor. Currently the people of Guelph seem to be happy with the library as is, but as time progresses and other libraries evolve, what will become of Guelph’s treasured library?

This is not the only reason why a new library would be beneficial. The current idea of a new downtown library – according to Steve Kraft – would contain a things such as a conference room, sound studios, student study space, ebooks, enhanced services including electronic services, more space, accessibility, and much more. However, the library’s involvement with other establishments is what seems to make the idea truly interesting. By joining the library to condos, the library would generate a constant flow of revenue. Also, the fact that the library is placed in downtown Guelph, a commercial area, would potentially bring in more people, increasing the number of people visiting local businesses, thus improving the economic stability of the city.

As for the cons, the cost of building the new library does seem steep and would require a lot more money than the current branch is worth – approximately 10 million as mentioned by Steve Kraft. Also, building a new library takes time, almost 10 years. Where would the money come from to support the project for that long? Would the current branch stay open while the new one would be under construction or would the current one be sold? Currently, financial partners have been established, but with one backing out once only to return, would these partners stay? It’s hard to say whether the future of the building of the Guelph Public Library would be successful at this rate, possibly the reason as to why the plan has been in the midst for the past 15-20 as mentioned by Steve Kraft.

When considering all of these facts. It’s hard to say if the new downtown library could be built, but should it? In my opinion, yes. I agree fully with Wendy Newman and believe that a new downtown library is a great idea. Although risky, a new library would not only provide many services to the city which would eventually become a near necessity as other libraries evolve with time while the current library in Guelph lags behind, but it would also help the city’s economy. Also, the current library, being as old as it is, being inaccessible and non-flexible, I believe that it denies the people of this city their right to a proper community space. Therefore, I believe the new downtown Guelph Public Library should be built.

…Rohan

 

 

Guelph Public Library Project

The Guelph Public Library has been a topic of debate for the past 20+ years. It was founded in 1883 which makes it the oldest public library in Ontario. with over 420,000 resources and 54,113 card holders, it must be evident that the guelph public library is doing well. But is it really? Over the years that have gone by, the library has been determined to reinvent itself and transform into a 21st century library. Their most recent strategic plan has provided several key points that could turn this library into something more completely. Working on projects such as the bookmobile project and the metrics project are just some of things that this library is working towards. However the question that must answered is, what are the flaws of the strategic plan that stop the Guelph Public Library from being funded? In the last 12 years, five strategic plans have been presented. So what stopped all these plans from getting a approval and moving forward?

Whether a new Guelph Public Library should be built or not is a very important question. In order to solve this question, we must first look at the basics. Is the library a presentable atmosphere for the community of guelph? After touring the library not too long ago, it was clearly evident that the library absolutely needed several repairs done in order to atleast be presentable. By touring the library it was seen that its resources, such as the archives in the basement were in danger. The building is so old that the archives room could be flooded if severe weather ever effected the town of Guelph. If something that is as community based as a library does not have proper roofing, and facilities, then this can only mean that Guelph needs a new library. Another question that we can consider is, do library users have enough space in this old library? Do people not use the library simply because the library does not have the proper resources that should be offered? During my visit to the library, it was evident that space was an issue. All computers were being used and there were no seats for people who walked in trying to study.  Before we decide whether or not this new library should be built, we also need to hear the publics opinion. What do politicians think of the library and what are their views on its strategic plan? Are current library users content with the library they have been using for the past several years, or are they waiting for some change to occur? What do non-library users feel and what would persuade them to start using the library? These are several questions that are crucial in understanding whether guelph truly needs another library.

I think that the reason why the new library has not been built yet is because of the big issue of money. After all money is the root of everything. Is spending millions of dollars on something like a library that does not attract a wide population of users worth it? Are there other important matters that need attention other than the town library? These are some questions that truly dictate whether this library should be built.

I believe that Guelph needs to build a new downtown public library. For decades, library users have been using a facility that is simply old and beat down. The city needs to start opening their eyes and realize that the library is in desperate need for help. Archives can be destroyed at any time with a simple storm, the public does not have enough space to actually use the library. Sooner or later the city has to realize that the library isn’t getting any bigger, but the city is. It is imperative that a new library is built so that the public can get what they deserve, a library that is safe and reliable.

Mohit Sekhon

A New Downtown Public Library for Guelph

Should the city of Guelph invest in a new and updated public library?…If you ask me I would say yes! The public library is a great investment for the city, not only do people get a place to do research and study but they also have a environment thats comfortable and made for them. An updated version of the Guelph public library would be costly but after hearing the benefits of having a library and taking a behind the scenes tour of it I think a new renovation is highly recommended. After hearing what Steve Kraft, the CEO of the library, had to say about the Guelph library and libraries in general it is clear to me that Guelph would benefit from having a place for the entire community to use. Wendy Newman, being a librarian herself stated that the things that work well in a library are not so much the outside or overall look of the library, it’s what is inside that matters. Installing more computers for people to use, making more space for lounging, and organizing more activities for the public. She also stated that “If a library is not a agent of change it’s not worth it”. The GPL needs some changes to convince people that the library should be rebuilt. The library should start to digitalize more by getting more computers or investing in e-readers. This would show that libraries are evolving and becoming more relevant to the 21st century.

The purpose of a library is to provide community culture, a place for books to be read and a place for educating people of all ages. These are some of the things I think should have been outlined in the Guelph Public Library strategic plan, include more of what they will improve and less of how much it will cost. The community of Guelph should have their opinions heard, what changes they want to see in the library, what community services they should provide and how they should make the library more interactive for children. The library is one of the historical monuments in Guelph and I’m sure many people would agree on keeping it that way, but after going on a tour of the library I can see that there are a lot of changes needed to be made. The structure of the library is not big enough for all those books and computers, they appeared to be clustered together in a tight space that looked like if anyone would want to find a specific book it would be difficult. The fire alarm in the lower level is also very outdated, this is a safety concern for citizens. Another concern is the non-accessible elevator which is to narrow to fit wheelchairs making the washrooms located on the third floor non-accessible too.

I believe that the main source for libraries are the books…especially for children. Books provide a great amount of knowledge and they give children imagination. When people think about a library the first thought that comes to their minds are books. What people don’t realize is that yeah; books are a great source of knowledge but the library has so much more to offer for a community. If the community of Guelph can see the benefits of building a new public library I think they would be in awe at all the great things it has to offer.

-Raphaela Simoes

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

Guelph Library in Need of Successor

The Guelph Public Library isn’t exactly a sight to behold. Whether its shabby roof tiles stained from leaks, cracked walls exposing the building’s foundation like bared bones, or fire alarms that look like the doomsday device from an old spy movie (Think Sean Connery’s time as Mr.Bond), every contour of the building seems battered in some regard or another. What’s more is that its state is no result of poor maintenance, thousands of dollars have gone into repairs along with a dedicated staff doing their best to nurse the ailing library. The fact of the matter is that the building is a fossil. While its rustic character might be reminiscent of an old friend, there’s no denying that the Guelph Public Library is in need of an heir apparent.

Despite the blatancy of the need for a replacement, all campaigns in favour of a new library being built or converted from another building have been put off and swept under the carpet for nearly two decades. There’s a long list of reasons for these attempts falling through the cracks but the most apparent of which is surely the need for green. Gathering the funds for such a task is no easy feat and the library’s strategic plan is an indicator of this. While the ambition is there, the plan is more of a pitch to financial backers than a list of goals for the library to accomplish in the community. With the loss of Conestoga College and its pool of funds, this financial desperation comes as no surprise. So with such a cumbersome economic need in mind, how could the library hope to gain the support it would require to accomplish such a task?

The answer lies in the depths of the current library itself. A tour of the basement will reveal that its archives are vulnerable to flooding, an adversary the library has little defense against if the leak stains on the roofs are any indicator. In these times it seems to take a disaster to conjure up any interest from the public. If the Guelph Public Library archives, home to some of the most precious historical documents in the city, were to be struck by such a disaster, perhaps the community would be shocked into action. With such a rich part of their history gone, Guelph residents could very likely find the inspiration they need to invest their full effort into a new library. No more having one foot out the door. Now, before you go on a witch hunt for the delinquent student who could want to orchestrate such a crime, finish reading this post. The disaster suffered by the library does not actually need to happen in order to trigger the response it would need from the community. A mock disaster might just do the trick.

So if a fictitious news headline, tweet, or blog post about the flooding of the Library’s archives can spark the support needed to get the construction of a new library underway, is it worth it? Many would agree that it is. With an endless list of needs including more computers, more space, and a more structurally sound facility, the cost of band aid solutions will rival the cost of a new Public Library as it is. Even more importantly, libraries are such a staple in a community, providing a rich networking hub, offering a near limitless pool of information, and inspiring the imaginations of children and adults alike. It would be sad to see such an institution perish to old age or worse, an actual disaster. That is why it is critical that Guelph citizens get behind the building of a new library, and a mock flood just might turn out to be the motivation that they need.

 

A New Public Library for Guelph?

For several years, a fundamental topic of debate has developed concerning the necessity of a new main library branch in Guelph. Opinions differ in regard to the urgency of this project, ranging from outright support, to indifference, or absolute opposition. Through the numerous articles which explore the practicality of these twenty-first century institutions, specifically the Guelph Public Library strategic plan, notions contributed by relevant figures such as Steve Kraft, the current CEO of the library, or Wendy Newman, a notoriously influential advocate for libraries, in addition to the tour of the downtown Guelph Public Library, sufficient information was accumulated that lead to the reinforcement of my own perspective on the prevailing matter.

To be able to truly resolve if Guelph should build a new downtown library or not, we must firstly determine certain key questions that will help settle this ongoing disagreement. The most pressing point at issue undoubtedly remains whether the community indeed desires and requires this change to take effect. Furthermore, it is imperative to interpret the true value of a library in our increasingly digital world, as well as the opportunities and threats this technological advancement can prompt. In order to clarify these issues, we can refer to the state of the city’s present downtown library. Owing to our tour of the establishment, I am able to judge the community’s uncompromising exigency for the accomplishment of this project. Although the library does include many innovative services that are deemed beneficial to its users, such as self-checkout stations, a tech bar comprised of a 3D printer and Kobo eReaders, and a children and teen’s section encompassing a public video game console, a corner for socializing, and a program room in which varied activities aimed at the younger demographic unfold, the overall space provided is simply not suitable to serve its citizens. The floors that hold the library’s material are cluttered and cramped, and the size of the building is inadequate for a city the size of Guelph. Another major concern is the fact that the structure does not meet modern accessibility standards, which is evident through the one non-accessible elevator and the washrooms located on the third floor. On a different note, as rendered evident by Wendy Newman, when debating the topic of a new downtown branch for Guelph, it is crucial to establish a distinct balance between physical and digital libraries in order to clarify the importance of these public establishments as cultural and community offerings in our technologically ordered lives.

The reason a new library has not yet been built when the need for one is so apparently discernable is therefore unsettled, but a significant justification to this complex controversy can be proposed: cost. The predicted budget for this project resides at a monumental price of ninety million dollars. With a cost that steep, we can understand the reason it can be so challenging to advocate for a new library and achieve the support of the public.

However, hopefully the residents and officials of Guelph can come to be persuaded of the colossal importance of a new public library just as I have been after thorough analysis of the evidence provided in regard to the inadequacy of the current institution, along with Guelph Public Library’s strategic plan which intends to provoke considerable comprehensive advancements in the community. A library should be a free community space where residents of all ages, incomes, and backgrounds can visit and enjoy spending their time, where people can go to collect information on a broad range of topics, get help applying for jobs, or take home physical or digital materials at essentially no cost, and that can be depended on, day after day, to attract people downtown, and the Guelph Library Project intends to make this conceivable.

– Sarah Ruest

A New Guelph Public Library?

Throughout the years, when someone mentions the term “library” all sorts of comments would pop up into our minds, whether they are negative or positive, there is something we can all say when we hear that term. Growing up outside of Guelph, I was surrounded by tons of libraries nearby which allowed me to access the space for studying and many of the useless resources. After taking a tour of the Downtown Guelph public library, it made me realize how different it was in various ways and Guelph definitely does need a new public library. Though there were some useful resources, they had seemed to be limited and considering the population is going to continue increasing, there will definitely be more users of the library. The library is not simply just the books to many people today because they have access to all sorts of materials.

After having Steve Kraft come in and talk about his idea on the Guelph Public Library, it showed me how reasonable his reasons were in wanting to have a new library build. It was quite interesting having both Steve Kraft and Wendy Newman speak so much about the various others libraries around the world because it opens your mind on how aware people are when it comes to seeing what is needed for the public. The library in Guelph had surprised me when I first had seen it because although I was told that it is incredibly old, in my mind I had the image of it being something ancient that I may not want to replace. However, it was the complete opposite because a lot of problems really concerned me. There was limited space for the employees and it seemed quite hectic how their offices had seemed so crowded. My main concern was on how there was very limited accessibility. The building needs to be modified so that there are various accessible routes for any citizen to use. For example, if someone were to be in a wheelchair, there should be ramps and elevators on each floor to help them get from one destination to another.

The question about whether or not a new library should be built in Guelph has been talked about for so long, but some people are not aware of the reasons why there needs to be a new one built. For years now, there had been different plans and all sorts of procedures, but that had not gone anywhere because as we see right now, we are still continuing to discuss the topic rather than taking a bigger action to it. There will definitely be different opinions on how it is not a good idea to build a new one, but after showing what the new building will bring may change the minds of many. I strongly believe that there should be a new one built because it will benefit the public a lot and it’d be a friendly environment to be in.

A Library in Need

Numerous questions over the past twenty years have circulated on whether or not the library on 100 Norfolk Street should be replaced with a new main downtown library. Guelph Public library faces many problems due to the fact that Guelph has a growing population. There is limited space for parking, studying, archives, and questionable layout of the building for seniors/persons with disabilities. Public libraries provide communities with the chance to educate, entertain, and improve the way of life for people. With a city that has a rich heritage and growing population, it is imperative that we build a library that provides a bright future for our youth, help our community socially and bring new innovative ideas to improve digital services. After outlining all these ideas many questions come into the picture such as; where funding will be produced, will services work to help community, and lastly will a main new library be a positive outcome for the city of Guelph especially for the downtown area?

The Guelph Public Library is the most used recreational facility used in the city. That being said, questions arise towards determining “why” a new library is needed. After taking a tour it was clearly obvious that space is a major issue, not only for staff but library users included. With a number of 54,133-card holders, it circulates 2.2 million resources annually, which goes to show the amount of people using this library. With that much service taking place, the use of space heavily increases which creates the need for more space in order for users to study, hangout, or plan recreational events. As far as staff-working space goes, it hurts that people working so hard to provide for a whole city don’t have enough room to do their jobs. The city of Guelph recently moved its archives to the basement of GPL; the space they store these historical documents are not easily accessible for the community and would cause people with disability to use a fifty-year-old elevator that needs repair. Steve Kraft provided us with chance to get an in depth look at what a new library would deliver. Economic growth was a huge upside for the downtown area because as services and space are increased, it provides the public to be more involved with businesses and other affiliations. Communities play a large role in improving life, mostly because it brings the chance for problems to get addressed, brings the public/youth to come together, and have shows. With a main new library, it heavily supports the idea of it being the heart of a city, which could bring many positive things to Guelph.

Multiple reasons why this library is under speculations and has not yet been built introduce us to the topic of funding. The estimated budget to build this library would be around 90 million dollars. With a hefty price like that, where would funding come from? And do all good things come with a large price tag? In my opinion, this is the part where the community needs to come together and get the message across. From what I have seen there is no major party or group of people strictly getting the massage across. Providing our municipal government with the urgency that this library is needed would put them in a tough position to make a decision and eventually work in our favor. In the long run, the more people know about the situation, it provides us with the opportunity to get fundraisers going and have a large majority of Guelph citizens involved in this project.

After gaining a helpful perception, it is no doubt that I am persuaded towards getting a new Library for the city of Guelph. Over the past few years’ new technologies, communication, and information has been introduced, giving a new look to the services libraries can provide. The age of GPL building is taking a toll on how much better this Library could really be and it’s only soon enough until a major accident will take place. I believe that there is nothing that can stop a new library from opening a door for economic growth, better living, and improved downtown core in Guelph.

A New Downtown Library for Guelph

As a child who grew up in a big city and have seen many different types of libraries, concludes that the current Downtown Guelph Library is poorly structured and dangerous. During the tour of the library, many unsafe areas came into my concert. For example the office space for the staff and other workers are very limited, it is very easy to bump into one and other or to simply trip on a certain object. This is very dangerous because libraries can get busy and when things get busy, safety procedures tent to be ignored. Moreover, the ceiling of the upper floor has been leaking due to the heavy rain but there are wires that are implanted within the ceiling boards. If there is a shortage in power then everyone’s life will be in danger especially that this upper floor is for children and family. These problems determine that there should be another library built but there are still many questions for the plan of building this new library.

In addition, the Director of Operations at Guelph Public Library, Dan Atkins, showed us where the archives are been placed –> in the basement. If there is a flood of some sorts then the first thing that will be destroyed will be the archives. These are the history and developments of Guelph, they are very precious. Maybe the new library can build an open space for these archives on upper floors so they will be away from danger.

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Some important questions are how technologies are affecting the use of libraries of all age groups? What advertisements should be done to promote this brand new library so people will use it? Or should there be computers that have some rare software or apps installed on them? These questions should be answered before having this new library built for the community.

Promoting a library should not be a hard thing because it is a free resource place for everyone. But due to busy schedules of people or the internet these days, many people choose to stay home for conveniences. Having a program within the library will definitely be a great option for promoting for the library. The question is what kind of program, during the visit of Wendy Newman, she answered my question by talking about how huge of an affect is a children program. I can back up this thought, back in my hometown; there is a program that I manage every Saturday. My program aids the children age 6 to 12 on not only learn to read but also other creative things. Having this program drew a lot of attention of parents which leads them to visit the library frequently even on the weekdays. These parents spread the news to other parents and elders so they came to visit too.

Overall, I believe having a library space rather to study, to play, to read, to learn or simply to have a gathering brings treasurable feelings to people. Moreover, a library is a place that provides freedom to everyone, having a safe library and working area is a key to have a good library. The new Guelph Public Library should encounter these thoughts and the thoughts of the none-library users because they play a big role in this as well. If they are for this project then the others will join.

~Elaine Yao

New GPL?

The Guelph Public Library (GPL) serves the Guelph community in a multitude of ways. It is used  for community involvement and activities, to provide resources such as books or the internet, as well as provide the community with a safe welcoming environment for all. Guelph has many small branch libraries that surround the area but the main library needs a big revamping. Being from Toronto, the public libraries there have never failed me. They have ample study space for students, places for kids to engage with others, as well as places to learn and read. However, with all the resources available in Toronto, I have found the library not to have enough study space. The GPL is no different, in that there is limited space to study or to even read.

The key question to determine is: Does Guelph need a new library and if yes why hasn’t it been built? The debate of building a new library has gone on for over 20 years. Over time we have heard from politicians and library advocates who have a close connection with libraries. However the main perspective that is important are the people of Guelph. We need to canvas and survey the Guelph community and see their perspectives on if Guelph needs a new public library. We need to interview all demographics of the Guelph populations, those who are for a new library, those against and those who feel as though it would affect them. However we especially need to interview and get the opinion on both elementary and high school students, I that not only are they the current generation of library users but also the future.

A real eye opener for me was seeing the behind the scene tour of the library. It gave a whole new perspective on the trouble the building is truly facing. The building is old, is not accessible for handicapped people and there is very limited space for both library members and staff. There are multiple reasons as to why a new public library has not been built, as it is extremely expensive to build a library, secondly we are living in a generation where technology is all around us and the use of a library might not be needed as much in the near future. Lastly the current public library is still maintaining a steady rate of people coming in and taking out books, this could be a reason that the library that they have now is still very successful and why interfere with something that is already doing well?

I believe that Guelph should build a new downtown library. As the current one is not realistic for today’s day and age. It needs to be bigger which will enable it to provide more opportunities for the city of Guelph. A library is essential for community involvement by expanding the property and offering more resources, where more people will take advantage of it, which can make the community even closer then it already is. The library will provide a sense of support and community to everyone around.

-Emily Goldberg