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Airdrie Public Library making strides towards new building

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, Mar 20, 2014 01:28 pm

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A new public library may be in Airdrie’s future, as City council voted unanimously in favour of engaging in a planning workshop with the Airdrie Library Board during a regular meeting of council on March 17.

Jon Hartenberger of HarGroup Management Consultants Inc. appeared before council to present the findings of the Airdrie Public Library’s needs assessment, explaining that a much bigger facility was needed.

“The growth and demand for library services has been growing exponentially,” said Hartenberger.

“The increased use of the library is actually greater than population growth, which is a trait that is unique to Airdrie.”

Hartenberger explained that the reasoning for this was the fact that many young families are moving to the city.

“A large segment of the library’s use is by youth,” he said.

The needs assessment surveyed nearly 1,800 people, the majority of which claimed they felt the library is a valuable and important community asset.

The current library is around 10,500 square feet, and Hartenberger explained that in order for the facility to provide an effective level of service, it would need to be closer to 50,000 square feet.

Details of the potential new building’s footprint and location have yet to be ironed out and will be part of the discussion between council and the Library Board, though Hartenberger outlined a few options that included a multi-level facility, as well as space dedicated for use by community groups.

Alderman Darrell Belyk sits on the Library Board and spoke in favour of the collaboration and the library’s value to Airdrie.

“I know there are some people who don’t really see the value of the library and they say, ‘oh we have Google, why do I need to go to a library?’ but the Airdrie Public Library is so much more than that, there is a high-level of community involvement that goes on there,” said Belyk.

Hartenberger explained options of a possible central location and a branch location to be developed later, as well as the need for approximately 3,500 square feet of space in a new location to be dedicated for community groups.

Deputy Mayor Ron Chapman, who sat in for Mayor Peter Brown who was absent, questioned if the space could be an asset to the City.

“Would this space be revenue generating for us?” said Chapman.

Hartenberger explained that it was an option to be considered, though specifics have yet to be determined.

Alderman Kelly Hegg is also a member of the Library Board and he liked what he saw from Hartenberger’s report.

He said he is looking forward to the next steps.

“This is kind of the next step for us to get an idea of what the library’s needs are and move in the right direction,” said Hegg.

“It’s similar to when we built Genesis Place where it’s grassroots driven and we get a working group and committee together to look at what we need and what we can afford.”

Belyk echoed Hegg’s statements, while reiterating the library’s value.

“It’s quite staggering when you look at the use of the library,” said Belyk.

“Not only that, but this was a very large survey group, usually you’re pulling data from a group of around 400, but to have responses from over 1,700 people shows that there’s a lot of interest out there and it’s given us a lot of good numbers to work with.”

Anne Beaty, communications and fund development coordinator with Airdire Public Library (APL), spoke briefly after council voted in favour of the collaboration.

“Thank you so much for your support,” said Beaty.

“This is exciting and I look forward to the next steps.”

The Library Board and council will meet at a date to be determined.

For the full needs assessment and more information on the future of the Airdrie Public Library, visit www.newairdrielibrary.ca


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