A new central library is a critical piece of SPL’s long-term plan to address growth and service demand and will address the safety, service gaps, and accessibility issues and add the much-needed capacity required for SPL to continue to deliver vital library services to the community into the future.
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 current central library facility, we have 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.
In KPMG’s analysis, a new central library is projected to result in a positive economic impact with an estimated $132 million in value-added GDP during the construction phase and estimated GDP impacts of over $15 million annually once operating.
We looked at renovating the current central library, but it comes with a high price – at $57 million, and we’d end up with a smaller collection and less space than we have now and over-crowding is already a huge issue for us.
The current central library will continue to operate until the new central library is ready. The Library Board owns the building and the land. It will be placed for sale, and the proceeds will be put towards the new library.
A new central library is the heart of the library system, and it will serve the entire community. Not only will it be available for use by all residents, but it will add much-needed capacity to the entire system supporting the branch libraries with a larger collection that it can house and circulate.
Central libraries have a unique role to play in library systems in terms of supporting branches and providing specialized services. The central library is both too small and has serious issues related to safety and accessibility that need to be addressed, and this is our current focus, but we know there are service needs in the neighbourhoods as well.
We’re not taking our eyes off of the neighbourhoods as we recently opened a branch in Stonebridge, and have begun a renewal process for our older branches that will continue for the next few years, as well as expanded service hours at two locations.
Once we know the future of the central library, we’ll be looking at how to meet the demands of the neighbourhoods – possibly through mobile service delivery in the short-term until we can build permanent locations.
The new central library estimated project cost of $134 million (adjusted for inflation). Funding sources are a combination of reserve funds, land sale proceeds, donations and $67.5 million in borrowing (with the debt repayment via the library levy).