Editorial: No one can accuse the Guelph Public Library of thinking small when it comes to a new downtown headquarters.
The $10-million fundraising campaign that was officially launched Monday to outfit a new downtown library not only has a big number as a target, but is to be national and provincial in scope, as well as seeking local support.
It might seem odd to be launching such a campaign now, given that a new main library wasn’t part of the new 10-year capital forecast unveiled by city hall last fall.
However, things have been happening behind the scenes. In November, council approved spending $200,000 on work to bring redevelopment of the Baker Street Parking Lot, including a new library, closer to reality. That same month, the library board approved in principle a study done by a Hamilton architectural consultant and a New York City design consultant, which confirmed that a new 90,000-sq.-ft. library is needed in Guelph to replace the library on Norfolk Street built in 1965.
And although the city’s 10-year capital forecast doesn’t include building a new main library as a project funded by city debt, it aims to leave financial room for the city to take advantage of partnerships with the private sector and higher levels of government to get a new library built.
Council approved a site for a new library in February 2009, fronting onto Wyndham Street North and backing onto the Baker Street Parking Lot. Last November, a city staff report outlined a newly refined plan for a Baker Street redevelopment. It included public and private parking, new public open space, new and redeveloped streets, and commercial and residential development, as well as the library. There was talk that the part of the redevelopment involving the library could be built as a first phase, possibly on the lower three floors of a condo tower.
Library CEO Kitty Pope said Monday that the $10-million campaign to buy furniture and equipment for the future new library will include the chance for people to sponsor pieces of furniture, much as they would a theatre seat in a community theatre. That’s an interesting concept, and library officials have a lot of other fundraising ideas too that they want to pursue with vigour. It’s great to see so much enthusiasm being devoted to such a good cause.