Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) says it needs to replace its 50-year-old downtown home.
Presenting to council’s governance and priorities committee Monday, SPL CEO Carol Cooley said the current Frances Morrison Central Library hasn’t met building codes since 2000.
She said the deficiencies included fire safety, mechanical, electrical and accessibility issues.
Opened in 1966, Cooley noted the central branch was designed to serve a city of 110,000 people.
“Since the central library opened, membership has quadrupled and the population has more than doubled,” she said.
SPL is currently considering a number of possibilities, including building a new library branch from the ground up.
Another option would be to repurpose an existing building as a new branch.
In the past, SPL has looked into moving into the old police headquarters on 4th Avenue.
After a suggestion from Ward 1 Councillor Darren Hill, Cooley said the hypothetical of using the Midtown Plaza space about to be left vacant by Sears Canada is also a consideration.
“Everything is still an option,” she said.
Cooley added while SPL would require council approval on a new central branch, they wouldn’t be asking for extra taxpayer funds. She said the bill would be covered out of the existing library levy, along with fundraising.
The organization is planning to hold public consultations in early 2018, including in-person and online surveys.
At least one Saskatoon resident isn’t happy with the focus on a new facility though.
Sean Hunter, identifying himself as a concerned citizen, interrupted Cooley’s presentation to council. He stood and loudly asked Cooley how she could “justify” a new library, given SPL cut 20 positions in May.
“I want better service, rather than just a pretty building with nobody in it,” he told reporters after.
Hunter said he wanted to see SPL focus on hiring specialized staff to curate local collections, which he said aren’t being properly cared for after the cuts.
— Chris Vandenbreekel (@Vandecision) October 16, 2017