Guelph Public Library

After our class had the great opportunity to have two people that are up to date and involved in the library services we discovered how libraries are still an ideal space in a community and may not be changing that quickly after all. We were lucky enough to have Steve Kraft the CEO of Guelph public library come and present his power point, which allowed him to express his vision on a new main branch library. After his presentation it was very clear what the plan was for the city of Guelph to go forward and proceed in a decision regarding a brand new library for the community. After we had Wendy Newman come to speak about how libraries are in the 21st century and the certain services they provide to a large community like Guelph, it was clear that libraries are a significant place within a community.

In both Steve`s and Wendy`s presentations it was brought to attention that the one ideal way to figure out if Guelph needs a new library is to get feedback from the residents that use the library frequently and the general public. From doing so many opinions and observations would arise and make the decision easier. Obviously cost is the big problem interfering with building a new branch but conducting surveys with several different questions can lead to many solutions that could be cost effective. For example, a renovation of the current library to meet needs and standards would cost less than an entire new building. Steve Kraft stated that the majority of users of the library still like traditional textbooks rather than reading digitally through an e-book. Because in today`s time we are surrounded and virtually addicted to technology, computers, and smartphones that getting away from what were always doing is present through reading a traditional book. This means that libraries in fact are not changing that rapidly and the idea of a new library is not that bizarre. Both Wendy and Steve mentioned that the library is seen as a free community space that is part of growing up, essential to one`s learning, and is an institution in society that shapes people`s lives. Libraries are a place of safety and give the feeling of well-being to the people who use this public space.

The fact that libraries are a very popular community incentive is why Guelph should indeed make and finalize the decision to build a new one for the city of Guelph. The current library is in my eyes a disaster. Not having proper employee offices, and workplaces, non-accessible washrooms, health and safety hazards, and limited space and services are solely the main reasons why Guelph is in desperate need for a new library. Libraries provide services that actually shape an individuals life. Being a poor reader leads to lack of basic knowledge and from a young age can have a child/student feeling that he or she is a failure. From this it leads to negative behaviour and increases the chance of being a drop out, criminal, and never making it to post secondary. Libraries provide services and programs for children learning to read which can leave them up to date in their level of reading. In fact, libraries are useful places for all ages. 20% of people are not connected and rely on libraries for Internet use, and other services provided by a computer. A library can help someone go from un-employed to employed by enabling the use of Internet and computers. After both presentations from Steve and Wendy, the library is still a very useful place within a community and is in fact not changing as quickly as people may think. After hearing their presentations and their view and knowledge on libraries it was clear that in fact Guelph does need a new downtown Library and the city would benefit greatly.

A Cause Worth Fighting For

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the privilege of listening to individuals such as, Mike Ridley, Wendy Newman and Steve Kraft discuss their thoughts and ideas pertaining to the Guelph Public Library (GPL). This has allowed me to expand upon my previously limited knowledge about libraries. As a result, I have identified ideas, concerns and questions of my own concerning the GPL project.

When Wendy did her presentation earlier last week, she asked us what we thought libraries represent. In my opinion, libraries embody and promote educational expansion. They provide individuals with the necessary tools and environment needed to learn. When multiple people have told me that the current library situation is outdated, understocked, and doesn’t fulfil spacious requirements along with other things, it just doesn’t make sense. It sends a message to not only the Guelph community but to outsiders that libraries and everything that they represent, is not important enough.

The 2015-2017 GPL strategic plan along with Steve Kraft’s presentation were stocked with an abundance of relevant stats and information that proves a new library is absolutely necessary. The GPL is the most used recreational facility that Guelph has to offer. Serving roughly 54,000 card holders, the GPL circulates 2.2 million resources annually. Facts do not lie, yet there continues to be a level of uncertainty that exists when discussing the future of libraries. Unfortunately, this hesitation has resulted in a struggle to collect the funds needed to build a new library. The success that the current GPL has had is astonishing considering that its the oldest library in Ontario, and doesn’t have the future recommended amounts in the book collection, periodical collection, readers seating and public computer stations. The City of Guelph’s population has been growing steadily over the years and its necessary that the Library grows as a result. The GPL’s dire need for expansion can no longer be overlooked.

The evidence that I have analyzed with a critical eye, has persuaded me to believe that a new library in downtown Guelph is a necessity. I understand its not an easy decision to invest millions of dollars in a particular area, but I do think that prolonging this cause will be very detrimental to this wonderful city. Building this new facility will send a concrete message to the world that Guelph supports lifelong learning and a healthy community. Ultimately, the decision lies in the hands of those who call Guelph their city. These occupants must make a decision on what they collectively value the most. The leaders of Guelph have tried to overthink the future of libraries. They should analyze the decisions made by many great leaders before them and the stats that prove Guelph is due for a new downtown library.

To conclude my blog, I want to thank those for opening my eyes to the importance of prioritizing. Sometimes we get caught up in the world that we live in, we tend to forget what matters. We have lost sight on the important role that libraries play in todays society. Thanks to what I’ve learned in this class so far, I already have more appreciation for libraries.

Ben . . . . .

Downtown Guelph Library

In my opinion the library that stands right now in Downtown Guelph is not doing  its job. Guelph as a community continues to grow but that library cannot take on anymore people. The computers are limited and there are already people waiting. There’s no good work space for staff or for the public. There are too little bathrooms. No accessibility, if a person with a disability did come into their library their wheelchair might not fit into the elevator, which they would then have a human rights violation on their plate. Another concern with the current library is the espestice, in my old high school we had espestice and a lot of the former teachers have passed away for similar types of cancer probably related to the exposer to that (there was also lead in the water fountain pipes). The leaky ceiling is another issue that needs to be handled as soon as possible but with the flat roof that they have there’s a big chance of that being a constant thing they will have to continue to fix.

Steve Kraft brought a lot of interesting ideas to the table. I believe it would be a great revenue and addition to the library to have an auditorium space. I also agree with a coffee bar, or cafe added. Lots of work spaces and more computers. I do disagree with his “customers first” idea. I don’t think of myself as a customer when i go to the library, I do agree that the people using the library are to be put first that’s great to say but maybe in a different phase like “Guelph Public Library where we put YOU first” would be better. Wendy also agreed that the word customers is not suitable when talking about the community members using the library.

One of the reasons I think there has been no library built is because people like the library. The staff even said they are always busy and a lot of the community does use the facility. Also it is a big project and there are only mayors in office for 4 years so to take on a big task like this, it may not be fully completed under their watch if they aren’t re-elected.

It’s time to start reaching out to the people who don’t use the library and seeing why? They want as much of the community involved as possible and the best way to do that is by seeing why some people don’t come. When Wendy came into talk she mentioned the best people to talk to aren’t the people who use the library because they are probably pretty happy with how it is, I mean they are using it, it’s the people that don’t. There are reasons they don’t us the library and some of those reason could be put into the new plan for the library bringing more people to the library.

At the end of the day though the library that’s there is not good enough. It is going to start costing them a lot of money as the ceiling is literally falling apart and a lot of other problems. Financially it would be more cost effective to build a new library and it would be producing a lot more revenue then the little space they have now. A new library is needed as soon as possible.

-Emma MacDonald


Guelph Public Library or nah

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.


A New Public Library for Guelph

It’s evident that something needs to be done regarding the downtown public library in Guelph. If that means moving to a new location and building a whole new library from scratch. One that would meet all the new standards and would have enough space for all of the new improvements they want the new library to include. Some say that might cost too much and a better option would be to renovate the current library. Although through what I have witnessed by taking a behind the scenes tour of the library as it is now, and through listening to Steve Craft’s vision for the new library, building a new library, even though the cost may be a steep, would be the better option in the long run.

Someone may ask, why can’t they just renovate the current library with the improvements they want to make? The reason that idea would not be able to happen is because there simply isn’t anymore space for improvements. With the space they have it is already cramped, scattered and the areas are poorly placed. For example the children’s section is on the second floor. This makes families that have little children walk up a flight of steps, and if they have a stroller, which many families do, there is only one elevator which is tiny and very old. Another problem with the layout is the accessibility resources are minimal to none. The library is definitely not accessibility friendly as the only accessibility washroom is also on the second floor, and as I said the only elevator at this library is on the verge of breaking. The problem is that these problems can’t be fixed as there is no where to put them in a more accessible area because the library is at space capacity.

Is a new library that necessary? The necessity of a new library has become very obvious over the past couple years. There are many problems structurally with the current library such as leaks in the ceiling, which have caused floods on occasion. Floods are disastrous in libraries as if the books or computers get wet, they are ruined. There are also archives in the basement of the library which would be impossible to replace in the case of a flood. It is also not a welcoming space for people. It doesn’t look like somewhere that someone could feel at home in. It is very out-dated, other than the 3-D printer and computers, which are very limited. There are hardly any windows, which is a key part in making a place feel welcoming, with natural light flooding in. Referring to Steve Craft (CEO of the Guelph Public Library), who said it is fundamental for a public library to have a sense of comfort so that users can feel welcome and at ease. Having a welcoming library would be the primary reason people stay and continue to return.

As Wendy Newman, the former CEO and now the Chief Librarian of the Branford Public Library, who has extensive knowledge on 21st century libraries made clear, libraries are starting to change from being an individualized place, where the only thing happening are transactions, to being more of a community space, where people can come together and have activities, a place for more than just taking books out. This means  the new library would need to include more space for groups to get together whether that is teenagers who need study space or adults to have regularly scheduled activities. Libraries should be changing as the human race changes and the Guelph Public Library hasn’t been. As a result it is now stuck in the past and needs to catch up with this now digitalized world.

Cost. The main reason as to why this project hasn’t moved forward in the past years. This new building will cost millions of dollars, this may be a concern for taxpayers who believe their money could be put towards something more important than a new library especially seeing how much in the end it will cost. But hopefully reading this and the thoughts of many others, will show that the new public library is needed desperately for the city of Guelph.

-Emma Snow


Guelph Library Project

The Guelph library project is something very important to not only the employees of the current public library but the community as a whole. A library plays a big role for many people living in the town of Guelph. Coming from a town with a very nice library I have gained a good understanding on the importance of a library and how it becomes reliability for many different people. To answer the question many people are asking which is whether we should build a new one or not you must gain knowledge of what is going on in the current library and whether we are actually ready to build a new one. Finding additional information to answer this question and a main reason to build a new one is what I had to do to come to conclusion that Guelph needs a new library. Looking into the reasons this project exists is what persuaded me to agree with the town of Guelph that building a brand new library is exactly what the community needs.

The obvious question that people of the community are asking why they need to build one or why they haven’t is definitely. After gaining more knowledge on this project I have some answers for both these questions. Guelph has been so hesitant on going through with this project because of the whole money factor. The expenses to build a new one are at a price of about 50 million dollars. Yes, reading that is shocking but when you really look at what this new library is going to offer it makes more sense. The Guelph library project strategic plan is what helped me get a better understanding to why the library has this cost. Although reading is wasn’t as appealing as I thought, I got information that showed me what is behind this project. The strategic plan did help my opinion but the main reason that persuaded me to agree Guelph needs a new public library is the visit I took the current library.

Making a trip to the actual library itself was definitely an eye opener; the amount of issues I witnessed that the library is facing is shocking. Walking into the building I instantly noticed the very confined space, it didn’t have any study space which is an issue for me because that’s the main reason I use the library for. Also its safe to say that the building itself is literally falling apart, the roofs are constantly wet, the elevator is days away from breaking, there’s no washrooms on the main floor, everything in the building is old and unappealing, and the lack of computer space is definitely a huge problem. These are just a couple things that are wrong with the library but the one thing that really blows my mind is the library is not wheelchair accessible. In our communities today we want everyone to be treated fair, and having a non-wheelchair accessible community building is definitely not right. The safety hazards are also a huge problem.

After having spoken with Steve Kraft CEO of the Guelph public library he has agreed to our concerns that the current building is not safe. The library is open to the public and having an unsafe building were people go to spend there free time is not what a community building should be like. Also when speaking with Wendy Newman who has a great understanding on what libraries is all about, we got to discuss that libraries are about community development. We as town need a library that satisfies the people of Guelph’s wants. As our world is developing technologically we must do things to adapt to our life styles. An example that Wendy discussed was that people use the library to go from unemployment to employment by making resumes and handing them in. Majority of jobs are only taking online resumes now and since the library has a lack of computer space it is making it harder for people to do things such as applying for jobs. The issues with the library is not only putting peoples safety at risk but it is taking away opportunities.

In conclusion the current Guelph main public library has many issues that give numerous reasons for a new one to be built. The costs to fix all the issues add up to almost as much as the cost of building a new one. We as a community need a new library to help develop as a whole not individually. Building a new library is what the town of Guelph needs and the more support the better chances this project will be a success. To get more information we will be interviewing more people and creating surveys to get more peoples opinions on this project.








The New Guelph Library

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.


Steve Kraft

Steve Kraft
Steve Kraft

On Thursday Steve Kraft, the recently appointed Chief Librarian and CEO at the Guelph Public Library, came to speak to the #GuelphLibProject class. Steve gave an excellent overview of the plans for a new downtown library and took questions from the class.

He updated the class on the status of the initiative and the challenges still to be met. His PPT presentation ( a PDF version is here: GPL NEW LIBRARY FUNCTIONAL PLAN Sept 2015) provided a detailed understanding of the services and facilities to be offered in the new library.


Tour of the Guelph Public Library, Main Branch

Last week the #GuelphLibProject students toured the downtown main library. This is the facility that is widely viewed as inadequate and has been considered for replacement for many years.

Many thanks to Dan Atkins (Director of Operations at GPL) for the excellent and informative tours.

What did the students see? Well, they will summarize their thoughts in some future posts. Until then here are some pictures from the tour.

The new 3D Printer and Scanner
The Archives
The Old Boiler (in the Mechanical Room)
The Community Room
Book Stacks
A Bench (from the Old Carnegie Library)
The Teen Area
Staff Workspace


Guelph Public Library Strategic Plan: Student Reactions

During the initial class meetings the students reviewed the Guelph Public Library Strategy Plan 2015-2017. Examining the plan gave the students a perspective on the plans and aspirations of the Library. It identified what the Library thinks is important.

Students were asked to identify what they liked about the plan, what was missing, and what was problematic or of concern. Selected comments are quoted and paraphrased below. Opinions differed about the strengths and weaknesses.


– the format and layout of the report wasn’t very appealing; didn’t grab their attention or imagination (“dry”, “boring”). “Has all necessary information but lacks a Wow factor.”

– more a business plan (“sales pitch”) than a strategy plan; lots of incremental projects but lacks many “visionary” items or longer term goals. Where, for example, was any talk or mention of the new downtown library?

– the “customers” in Customers First (the title of the strategic plan) received a lot of negative feedback; should be “community first” or “people first.” The “customer” language made the Library sound like a business transaction.

– targeting 20-35 year old demographic was seen as very astute; bring this group back into active library use. However, short on details about how this would happen. “The choice to segment the libraries’ users was clever, and would aid in targeting certain demographics in order to better serve them.”

– “community services department showed vision, new way of engaging the community.”

– the ROI data (i.e. a $5.42 return for every $1 spent) dramatically and clearly showed value to community.

– “they want to use this library as a community center (e.g. events, celebrations…) If so, they should just expand it into a community center with a swimming pool and other exercise equipment.”

– “a lot of this is what we’re going to do not enough this is why/how we’re going to do it

– “transitioning the bookmobile service into a community outreach service so that the needs of seniors and others are met, allowing people who cannot go to the library still be able to access its resources.”

– “an amazing job of giving relevant statistics that could be used to give a strong argument for building the library; all stats come with a description of why they are important and relevant.”

– “the text should have included less incremental changes and specify the library’s overall vision, while prioritizing how they plan on reinventing themselves to better serve in the 21st century (i.e. less about its resources and more about connecting the community)”