This week's Camrose Booster newspaper will be uploaded tomorrow. Sorry for the delay and have a great day!
Public library looking ahead
City council will have to make a decision in the not too distant future on another Camrose facility.
Camrose Public Library presented a report to council April 2 indicating that with 17,286 citizens living in the City of Camrose today and projections of over 24,000 by the year 2020, not including the surrounding service area, the population of local post secondary institutions or travellers using the library as they pass through, planning for issues related to how the library might deliver services to the residents of Camrose is becoming a concern.
The Camrose Public Library is undersized, with 12,702 square foot of space housing 44,841 items, 21 full-time equivalent staff and 12 internet stations. The space requirement is expected to grow to 18,000 to 20,000 square feet by the time the city population reaches 20,000 to 25,000, and 60,000 square feet by the time the city population reaches 60,000.
"It is getting tight, I can attest to that," said councillor Daryl Shillington, City council's representative on the Camrose Public Library board.
A Camrose Public Library facility review done in 2001 projected needs for 2011-2012 to be 15,291 square feet.
"Over the last few years we have done space optimization plans to try to give us more shelf life," said Shillington.
The library developed a major plan of service in 2011 and plans to conduct another community needs assessment in 2013 to provide a better understanding of the needs of the community going forward.
"The Camrose Public Library board is committed to making the library more friendly and welcoming for patrons by understanding the needs of the community," said the report. "The board's goal is for the library to become an open, vibrant, welcoming and sharing community living room in the heart of the city and they are reaching for this goal by following a community-led service planning model with the understanding that libraries are inclusive institutions created equally for everyone in the community."
A 2011 citizen satisfaction syndicated survey showed the Camrose Public Library as having the lowest score of all City services. While respondents were generally happy with the physical characteristics, they were disappointed with the age of the collections, which they described as "old, dirty and ratty," the availability of e-resources, and the fact the library is not open on Sundays. Improving accessibility by extending Sunday hours would have cost implications including staff wages, staff retention, maintenance of the building and increased power costs associated with heating and cooling of the building, operation, and lights and computers.
Camrose Public Library is currently in the process of weeding its collection based on the condition and use of materials.
"The collection is currently a little oddly balanced," said director of library services Deb Cryderman. "With the university library right in the city our library should be serving the purpose of providing leisure reading for the community rather than research reading. At the moment our collection is 65 per cent non-fiction – the stuff that should be in the university library – and 35 per cent fiction, and that should be reversed. We should have about 65 per cent fiction and 35 per cent non-fiction."
The library has received a $45,000 cheque from the government to assist with renovations, including new paint and carpet, and over the coming months will be rearranging collections, allocating more space for soft seating so that people can gather and be social, and carving out quiet spaces for readers or exam writers.
"The library is an important community space and having a long-term concept to address the library in its entirety and its potential to be a community gathering space is paramount to our future space planning," states the report.
Cryderman noted that, over the last few years, libraries have become less book repositories and more people gathering places.
"We see the trend growing more now in the rural areas. Any given day you can see people using the Camrose Public Library to sit, stay, listen, play, read or even nap. Groups gather to meet at the library, individuals attend programs, some come for a quiet place to read, while others come to share opinions and entertainment."
Camrose Public Library understands it has an important role to fulfill in terms of providing access to new technology.
"Not only should libraries provide internet access, but Alberta Public Library standards have identified that 40 per cent of seating should be capable of connecting to power supplies to provide computer docking stations for patron computers," states the report. "Libraries play an important and growing role in support of other devices and access to materials available via these devices."
Cryderman explained that Camrose Public Library (CPL) is part of the TAL library network, meaning that anyone with a CPL membership card can access materials from the Augustana library. In the Battle River School Division, students are using their library membership cards to access the Camrose Public Library database for research.
Councillor Brandon Blatz suggested it might be possible to integrate Camrose Public Library with the new city hall.
"The new city hall we said we want to be an inviting place, a place for the public, and there are several points in this particular (library) study that says that is exactly what the library is and wants to continue to be. Why couldn't we integrate that into one capital project instead of perhaps having individual buildings?"
Camrose Public Library board chair Anjah Howard expressed the opinion that combining a new library with a new city hall or a pool renovation is the way to go.
"Then people can use multi-use space and it would also potentially reduce the size of the library needs because there would be the potential of sharing meeting space.
Councillor Gerry Galenza said that while the idea of having more than one service in the same building is a good one, a city hall/library situation might not be the best answer.
"The only caution I have is that we spent almost ten years trying to address the city hall issue, and that does not include a library.
Galenza said it may be possible to convince the business north of the library to relocate to the industrial area so the library could expand.
"It seems to me that we have an industry that, over the years, has caused some grief (for the library) in terms of noise and exhaust. To me it just doesn't fit there. Sometimes I think we need to be a leader in that and look at possibly relocating it to a better place in the industrial area and freeing up some land."
Data from Banner Research & Consulting Inc. shows that 48 per cent of adult Albertans have used a public library in the past 12 months and that 67 per cent of Albertan households reported having a member who had used a public library in the past 12 months.