On a + note

A new Main Library for Guelph. #10: 2012

Posted in on a + note by Admin on April 16, 2012

The Guelph Main Library Building Program and Functional Plan Report (BPFP) by Consultants Garwood-Jones and Hanham finally has been completed and accepted by the Guelph Public Library Board.

The lengthy study commissioned by GPL and the City of Guelph is the first in a ten-step process to get the library “shovel ready” to build a new Main Library in downtown Guelph. The report defines the scope and vision for the new Main Library and includes the projected space requirements and functional elements that will be used by the architects to design the 90,000 square foot facility to serve the community for the next 50 years.

Through a series of four community workshops lead by the effervescent Nester Bottino, AIA, of ForeSite Facility Planners, the BPFP report:

  • Defined the role of the new Main Library in the Guelph community.
  • Defined the space requirements and adjacency plans.
  • Defined site plans and building massing.
  • Reviewed guidelines for a LEED Silver Certification facility.
  • Reviewed Guelph’s architectural heritage and development plans.
  • Estimated costs to build the facility within the next five years.
  • Defined a ten-step process to be “shovel ready.”

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical when we embarked on this planning process. However, a year later, I am confident that the efforts put into this first step will put us in an excellent position to develop a totally new and innovative building model that leverages a partnership between the library and the community.

With this first step completed, the GPL Board now is working with the city to develop the business plan and find a building partner who will build the facility. The board also is planning a series of national and local fundraising projects to furnish and equip the new Main Library.

Currently, the most often asked questions include:

When will we have a new Main Library in downtown Guelph?

It all depends on how quickly we can find a building partner. We know it will take at least one year to amass the land and permits, another year to design the building, and two years actually to build it. So, the earliest we expect to open the doors is sometime between the fall of 2017 and the summer of 2019.


Will there be an auditorium and meeting rooms in the new library?

Yes. There are plans for a 300-seat auditorium with a presentation stage and a 150-seat meeting room that can be subdivided into three 50-seat meeting rooms. There will also be individual and group study spaces for quiet and not-so-quiet study, as well as desk chairs, comfy “living room” seats, young adult seating, and chairs for children. 210 seats in total!


What will the new library look like?

The new Main Library has not been designed yet. However, we know it is a building that has to be open and flexible, because as the needs of the community change, the library needs to change with them. The new library needs to fit into the landscape of downtown Guelph. It will be environmentally responsible and have room for scooters and strollers. It has to be a “high performing” LEED  building that makes use of technology and innovative environmental applications The new Main Library will be warm and inviting; it will feature local art and highlight the rich local history of Guelph.

Where will the new library be located?

It will be on a large tract of land between Wyndham and Baker Street, just north of the old post office. The new library will be the cornerstone of an innovative and environmentally responsible downtown development that will include a combination of condos or a hotel, retail space, recreational facilities, restaurants, and green space.


How can the community be involved?

The GPL Fundraising Committee is just getting started. Over the next six months, they will be developing plans to raise 10 million dollars to equip and furnish the new library. GPL can now issue tax receipts for donations and is looking for the founding donors to kick off the five fundraising campaigns.


Building a public library in 2012 is a long and tedious process, but the Guelph Public Library Board and staff are confident that with careful planning, community consultation, wise decision making, and support of the community, we are on the path to opening a new Main Library in downtown Guelph.

Kitty Pope                                                                                                #10 March 2012



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