I ran into a FB “friend” while walking my furry friend and he (the person not the dog 🙂 )bemoaned the fact that it was hard to find good information about the candidates and the party positions in the upcoming NS Provincial Election. That got us discussing the  limited information available to residents in our fall municipal election. For a small town, with no news agency to do the hard digging and analysis, we are mostly left to chats on the street and candidates’ brochures. As we chatted I was reminded of a point included in the recent report of the AVRL that “Public libraries support a democratic society.” Could the library – and by this I am assuming both its holdings and its programming – not be a catalyst for these important discussions….CHICAGO PL 05

As most of you will know I am a recreation planner by training and profession. My husband and business partner is an urban planner who has done all of our firms library work. These subject areas are therefore ones with which I am not only very familiar but also very passionate. As I said to a reader who asked “What is in this discussion for me with respect to our firm” – absolutely nothing. But as a councillor and a person who has spent the better part of 40 years promoting and studying these two areas – a great deal. And so I dearly want to hear what residents of Wolfville and the surrounding area think as we begin – what will inevitably be a long process of discussion HJOERRING PL DENMARK 08– to consider what we might like with respect to library services.

But first a quick comment about how library services are provided in Nova Scotia. We have a provincial library system. The funding for staff, collections and programming comes from the Province. There are regional library boards to which local municipal councils appoint a representative. Sometimes these representatives are elected officials but in Wolfville it is a resident appointment. If a local municipality wishes to have a library facility in their community the local government provides and pays for the building. So in Wolfville (which by the way based on the library’s figures also serves about 4,000 residents in the communities immediately surrounding Wolfville, as well as Acadia students who may wish to use the public library) the Town owns and pays for maintenance of the library facility (the train station) and the province for all other costs. The Town does not have any say in services, hours, staffing or programming. If the Town or region wished a different library facility this would be paid for by the Town (no doubt with plenty of community fundraising and potentially capital support from other levels of government.) I would also note that it is my understanding that if a community was developing a new library there would be plenty of opportunity for community input on programming and hours before a commitment was ever given to capital funding.

Bseniorsusingtheinternetack to our discussion of whether we might benefit from a more contemporary library (the AVRL Board and CEO has indicated that the Wolfville library facility is undersized for our needs by at least half). I can think of four options – actually there are likely many options and permutations of these four – but lets start with them.

  1. Do nothing – this would certainly be the least expensive, but it would also be the least able to provide the services that can be achieved by a more contemporary and larger library. Doing nothing could also mean that as a service the library will over time become less relevant.
  2. Expand on the current site – this option has much to consider. The location is excellent as an anchor to a central cultural precinct and it retains a focus on a much loved building. Parking would be a consideration as the building would inevitably encroach on existing parking. Retrofit of historic buildings is also at least as expensive as new builds so cost would be a consideration. Both this option and the next two would however, provide the space to create a truly contemporary and responsive library in our region.
  3. Work with Acadia to create a composite public and university library – this option is innovative and could create a true coming together of the municipality and the university. Done right it could expose and cross pollinate our two main community components and potentially lead to other interesting sharing and co-development opportunities. However, some people might not feel comfortable connecting with the university community and I expect there will be a contingent who will not wish to change locations.
  4. Work with our regional municipal partners and create a new library as part of a multi-purpose community centre. This is a common model – created in Bridgewater/Lunenburg County, Pictou County, Truro/Colchester and many others across Canada. This model does create a one-stop shopping option that is welcomed by many. However, it is unlikely that there is space in Wolfville and a strong rule of thumb for libraries is to place them within urban cores if one wishes to get the best bang for your buck. Still an option to be assessed.

There are many things to think about, this will be a long term discussion. Let’s start it now. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PROS AND CONS TO EACH OPTION IS? WHICH OPTION SPEAKS MOST STRONGLY TO YOU?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s