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New central library’s role benefits all city branches

Bullfrog library user Judith Wilkins misunderstands  the relationship between a central library and its branches (“Library Thinking Wrong,” Aug. 26) in her response to public library CEO Kitty Pope’s excellent piece about the benefits of library systems especially in this electronic age (Tribune Aug. 12)
The gist of Pope’s reference to our proposed new central library is its role in supporting the entire system of diverse services required in this new information era, including branch libraries.
Wilkins misses that point, and instead pits the needs of her convenient Bullfrog branch against the cost of a less convenient central library. “Rather than pouring tens of millions of dollars into the downtown mega library which for most necessitates a car or transit trip…”
The facts are otherwise.
Even if we limit consideration to books, every circulating item listed in the online catalog can be ordered, even from the comfort of one’s home computer, for pick up at any location. Indeed, even books that are not owned by Guelph can be ordered through inter-library loan for pickup at any location. No car or transit required – virtually the entire world of books in any language is available at Bullfrog, which happens to also be my local branch.
But Pope was talking about a lot more than books in her description of the role of public libraries in this internet age. The  statistic that got my attention is that our libraries are the most used public recreational amenity in Guelph with 2000 users per day anticipated in a new central library.
I also understand that Conestoga College’s plan for a campus in the Baker Street re-development includes leasing library services from the Guelph Public Library. What a marvellous synergy, which will undoubtedly increase the quality of the information product supplied by our libraries.
Of course, a single citizen misunderstanding the crucial role of our central library in this information era is not a big deal. But when Cam Guthrie, a candidate for mayor of Guelph, wants to shelve this long-delayed essential project, potentially jeopardizing the synergy of the Baker Street project, that is a very big deal.
I don’t think it is unfair in this context to recall that the likes of Rob Ford also wanted to curtail his city’s library services, and that his foolishness provoked public rebuke from the likes of Margaret Attwood.
Sally Humphries (“Guelph is not Toronto,” Tribune letters, Aug. 12) correctly indentifies in recent Guthrie robocalls that Guthrie and Ford share a commitment to the notion that nothing matters to the electorate except reduced taxes, and thus promising irrational cuts is the golden route to office. But we all know that Guelph is wiser than Toronto.
Because Wilkins evidently loves our Bullfrog branch as much as I do, I invite her and all others who appreciate the importance of public libraries to support Karen Farbridge in October. Farbridge has advocated for a strong central library, both while in office and out of office, for as long as that project has been on Guelph’s radar.
Dennis Galon

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