RPL Central Library location says $50M ‘keeps the doors open’

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To be clear, that $50 million just “keeps the doors open” and will not ” include improvements to the space, or structural changes to meet customer and community needs.”

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To keep the doors open and the roof where it is, the Regina Public Library (RPL) is asking for $50 million to keep things running at its Central Library location in the city’s downtown.

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On Wednesday during a meeting of the city’s executive committee, the RPL will make its case that it needs the money to maintain operations at its central branch citing myriad issues ranging from uninsulated windows, windows which were installed backwards, asbestos in the ceiling, a roof without reinforcement which sits atop walls and concrete deterioration among other issues.

To be clear, that $50 million just “keeps the doors open” and will not “include improvements to the space, or structural changes to meet customer and community needs,” according to a presentation from the RPL contained within the publicly available agenda for the upcoming meeting. There are also “safety” issues which are not elaborated upon, and there exist accessibility issues at the current branch according to the presentation.

When the branch opened it was meant to serve a community of 110,000 people, but now, the city has more than doubled that to 249,217 people as of 2021, according to Statistics Canada.

When asked to comment on the upcoming presentation, an RPL spokesperson said library officials would not be commenting before the presentation on Wednesday out of respect for the city’s request and its processes.

While the agenda item does not explicitly state that the RPL will seek a new building, the report does contain several pictures of recently completed public libraries, like the Calgary and Edmonton Central Libraries as well as concept art of the Saskatoon Central Library and it does mention bringing a project “to the community at a public board meeting; call for Board vote.”

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The presentation concerns the “renewal” of the central location and could mean anything from adding on to the existing branch or starting from scratch somewhere else, according to past interviews with Sean Quinlan, chair of the Regina Public Library’s board of directors.

The RPL’s final slide quotes the City of Regina’s City Centre Core Framework, “Strategic alignment of catalyst projects, both private and public should be maximized. This is a time to be smart, strategic, and most importantly be focused.”

According to the report, there are currently 470,000 visits per year to the Central Library, and the ambition is to add an additional 250,000 visits per year.

Executive committee will meet at 9 a.m. on Wednesday in Henry Baker Hall to discuss this matter among others, including the newly proposed Catalyst Committee, the Community Well-being Policy and other agenda items which can be viewed online.

alsalloum@postmedia.com

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