Is Kitchener’s Centre Block the right location for a new main library


I am in favour of an improved and
expanded Central Library for Kitchener; but I do not think it should go into
the Centre Block. I am not convinced by
the published economic forecasts. They are based on the experience of Winnipeg,
Montreal and London. Montreal is a lot
bigger city where in the past there was little support for public library
service – very different from Kitchener’s situation. Winnipeg has always played a large role in backing up surrounding
public libraries; it has a history of inter-library cooperation and leadership.

The London Public Library also has a long history of leadership
and cooperation with it’s neighbouring libraries. London’s demographics are
also very different from Kitchener. London has 78% of Middlesex County’s
population while Kitchener has only 42% of Waterloo Region’s population. The
London Central Library has no rival public library reference collection in the
county while here we have both Cambridge’s and Waterloo’s. These two libraries have very good usage
statistics for their reference departments.
I know from personal experience that they often have reference materials
not found at KPL. Kitchener would need
the complete collapse of these two public library reference departments to
increase the number of main library users to the same extent as the London
Public Library did.

Also to be considered are differences in the two downtowns. London’s renovated indoor market, Covent
Garden, is more successful at attracting people than our newly renovated market.
The new LPL Central Library was built in an existing Mall; it was not built to
be an engine for economic development.
While use of the 2002 London main library has increased, the shops in
the Galleria are still not doing well. People are not combining a visit to the
library with shopping. They go to the library to fill information needs and do their
research in the library.

The new London Central Library
started from a superior base. According
to the 2002 statistics, LPL was handling 179,000 reference transactions vs.
KPL’s 117, 650. Those statistics also show LPL held more titles overall –
433,607 vs. 358,807. London has the largest collection in the County while
Kitchener is not as dominant in Waterloo Region. I am not comfortable with
economic forecasts based on the LPL experience and don’t believe the benefits
predicted.

I strongly support the 2003 Walter Fedy Partnership
feasibility study recommendation that a new Central library be built adjacent
to the current Queen Street location. I don’t see any benefit in filling one
vacant downtown lot by creating a gaping hole in another successful downtown
neighbourhood.

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About thebows99krug

Hi, I am Eric, a retired librarian. I was born in St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto and raised in the downtown area north of the Art Gallery, south of the University of Toronto. I went to Orde Street Public School, Harbord C.I., University College at the UofT and the UofT's Faculty of Library and Information Science. I meet my wife Patricia at FLIS; our first date was on November 15, 1968. We were engaged February 14, 1969 and married on June 21, 1969. Our family includes son, James; daughter-in-law, Erin; (both writers), grand-daughters, Vivian and Eleanor; and Pooka, a small but fierce gray tabby. I would like to hear from any other class of '63 alumni of Harbord C.I. and class of '67 alumni of UofT's University College.
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