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The current central library is failing to meet the demands of the community it serves.

The Frances Morrison Central Library (FMCL) is non-compliant with all significant building codes, including fire, mechanical, electrical, and accessibility, with identified life-safety deficiencies dating back nearly 20 years. The City of Saskatoon Building Standards Branch determined in May 2000 that no architectural improvements will be permitted without the non-compliance subjects being addressed.

We assessed the cost of renovating and expanding FMCL, but it was not determined to be the best way to meet the goals we will be able to meet with a larger, modern library. A renovation was estimated at $57 million. 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. Additional square footage would be required on the existing spaces to meet the accessibility & building code standards.

Assessed Building Combustible Load Very High (measurement of the combustible material per square foot of floor space) 
Reassigning to meet the Code would mean adding approximately 18,800 square feet of space.

Exit Means Non-Compliant
Three fire exits/stairwells are required from each level; only two existing exits conforming to code. Third exit is required to comply with distance to exit, exit width and integrity of exit requirements. The Lower Level has insufficient public exit provisions from the Theatre and Meeting Room, which poses a significant life safety liability. The occupancy capacity of these rooms requires two means of egress to an exit, which is not provided or easily accommodated.

Sprinkler System Required
Assembly building type is required to be sprinklered by current Code. FMCL does not have a sprinkler system in case of fire.

Insufficient Quantity of Washrooms 
Additional units are required to satisfy code and occupational health and safety requirements.

Existing Storage Mezzanine Non-Compliant 
The storage capacity and egress requirements for access to exit are not compliant.

Interior Fire Separations Non-Compliant
Existing separations do not provide a barrier-free travel path.

Building Envelope Upgrading 
Upgrading to glazing, insulation, and air/vapour barrier is required for adequate environmental control and energy performance to today’s standards. Roof leaks prove difficult to troubleshoot and repair, and damage the collection when they occur.

Hazardous Materials Abatement 
Asbestos is present throughout the building.

The mechanical systems in the building are original, dating back to 1966, except the chiller, which was replaced in 1990 and nearing the end of its anticipated service life as of 2005. For the building to operate successfully through another life cycle, a complete retrofit of the mechanical system is necessary.

Heating Plant
The plant consists of two original fire-tube, low-pressure boilers near the end of their expected service life.

Environmental (Temperature & Humidity)
Existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, along with the associated temperature and humidity controls, do not provide a stable operating environment for the facility. A new direct digital control system is required.

Automatic Fire Protection
A sprinkler system is required by current codes and installing one requires expanded water service.

The electrical systems in the building are also original, dating back to 1966, and surpassed the end of their anticipated life as of 2005.

Main Distribution
Equipment and motor control centres are original and have served their useful life.

Electrical System
System is outdated and cannot accommodate the current needs for power and device charging. The electrical capacity is near its limit, despite an upgrade in 2013.

Devices & Branch Circuits 
Upgrades are required for the power distribution to meet current standards.

The City of Saskatoon Facility Accessibility Design Standards (FADS) outlines the perspectives of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and the National Building Code in terms of accessibility requirements and the promotion of Universal Design.

  • Shelving does not adhere to the principles of Universal Design or FADS.
  • Miscellaneous furniture (including service points) create accessibility obstacles.
  • Public and employee elevators suffer from ongoing age-related problems and need to be upgraded or replaced.
  • The stairs in the children’s story room are hazardous.
  • The washrooms are below the building code size for accessible washrooms.

Collection Space 
The space that is publicly and conveniently accessible is insufficient. The City of Saskatoon Facility Accessibility Design Standards require lower shelving heights, so more physical space is required to house the same number of materials in the collection. In addition, the central library needs to provide support function for the branches, because while their collections have decreased due to the limitations, the demand has not. We need to store more items centrally that can be circulated to the branches to meet their needs.

Congestion & High Traffic Areas
There is congestion at the main entry and checkout desks.

Functional Zoning 

  • The quadrant building configuration doesn’t allow people to move freely throughout the building and requires additional staffing for security personnel, and multiple service desks. In addition, the layout increases the operating costs of the building.
  • As services, collections and staff have grown, the available space has diminished, resulting in poor interior accessibility and traffic patterns.
  • The crowding of public and staff areas results in functional and operational inefficiencies.
  • The book return has to be locked during the day (no ability to provide secure returns) so patrons must come into the library to return items, which is not convenient with limited parking.

Inflexible Spaces 

  • There aren’t enough meeting rooms to support library programming and community needs.
  • The meeting room cannot be used by the public; it cannot be secured from the work space due to safety requirements.
  • The auditorium accommodates speakers and films only (inflexible for other uses).
  • There is insufficient space to develop new areas such as maker spaces.
  • The public need for both quiet and noisy spaces within the library cannot be met within the current design of the building.

The use of new technologies and the creation of spaces, such as innovation labs or studios, is very limited due to the capacity of the electrical system.

Special Collections (Local History and Art) at Risk
There are recurring problems with water seepage, humidity, and environmental controls for storage of library materials in the lower level; there is a lack of environmental control for the local history collection and storage areas; and there is no fire protection for these irreplaceable materials.

Safety and Security
The sightlines are poor, and the design of the building results in the need for additional security personnel to maintain patron safety.

Five year average utility and maintenance costs of FMCL were 12% greater than comparable Canadian libraries, with costs tending to be higher for older libraries.

Building deficiencies of the Frances Morrison Library have been identified in a number of reports prepared for the Library Board. These include: Comprehensive Replacement of Services Vision: Frances Morrison Library 2004; Facilities Planning Report 2004; Building Summary Sheet 2004; Building Assessment Report 2000; Building Committee Report 1999; Building Renovation Plan 1998; Renovation Needs Frances Morrison Library 1995, and Functional Space Overview and Decentralization Assessment Frances Morrison Library 2005.