SPL has been enriching the community by inspiring discovery, curiosity and creativity through the sharing of spaces, experiences and ideas for over 100 years.
SPL seeks to provide welcoming and vibrant community meeting spaces, with diverse collections, programs and services that are inclusive and promote lifelong learning. In 2019, 49% of Saskatoon residents were library members, there were over 3.5 million items circulated, over 104,000 attendees at programs, and patrons saved over $46 million by borrowing materials from the library.
In 2016, SPL released a Strategic Plan with a vision to change lives through community connections, engagement and inclusivity. It set forth an exciting and ambitious vision of growth, modernization and cultural progress. In pursuit of the vision, SPL has been readying for the future, making the necessary changes to ensure the library has the ability and capacity to create strategic and sustained positive community impact for future generations.
Designed for a different era of public libraries, SPL now faces challenges in delivering modern library services at FMCL with increasing patron expectations, demand for technology and space, and changing community demographics. As the heart of the library system, the central library serves as a hub to support branch libraries with collections, specialized services, spaces and expertise. The ability of a central library to support the needs of both its patrons and the needs of the neighbourhood branches determines the vitality of the entire library system. FMCL is now failing to meet the demands of the community it serves.
Both SPL as a library system and the 78,000 square foot FMCL facility are undersized to serve the current Saskatoon population, based on industry benchmarks. Lack of capacity and high demand for service is straining SPL’s ability to provide library service across the city. As a result of the small size and condition of the facility, FMCL has troubling service gaps including lack of public space, an inability to support the technology needs of patrons, lack of programming rooms, an undersized collection, and safety and security concerns.
FMCL is deficient on significant building codes (dating back nearly 20 years), many of which create risk for the organization. Some of the most critical issues are a lack of a sprinkler system in the event of a fire, not enough fire exits, accessibility issues, and only a handful of public washrooms.
With the City of Saskatoon anticipating the population to grow to 500,000 in the next 30 to 40 years and the changing demographics of the city, demand for library space and service is expected to grow, placing a further strain on an already strained system. A new central library is a critical piece of SPL’s long-term plan to address growth and service demand. A new central library will also address the safety, service gaps, and accessibility issues, as well as add the much-needed capacity required for SPL to continue to deliver vital library services to the community.
A new central library is fundamental to delivering on SPL’s vision to change lives. The planned new Saskatoon central library blends traditional library service with new and innovative spaces, programs and services, and will enable SPL to adapt library services to meet the changing needs of patrons into the future.
The Business Case for a new central library describes how a new facility will contribute to the overall quality of life for all of Saskatoon’s residents, create positive social and economic impact and contribute to downtown revitalization.