Moncton Public Library Board has published its concerns ahead of the information session, which I'm posting below in case the original document disappears. Interesting read; sorry for wall of text.
THE MONCTON PUBLIC LIBRARY BOARD RESPONDS concerns over proposed re-location
Over the past number of months, there has been significant discussion about the potential re-location of the Moncton Public Library to support a proposed, private developer’s revitalization of the former Moncton High School. This has led to several positions being put forward - leaving the citizens of Moncton confused about the true facts on how this proposal would affect the public library and the services it provides to the citizens of Moncton. The following presentation highlights the facts as they relate to the Moncton Public Library and its synergy with ongoing downtown development and growth.
The Moncton Public Library Board
A vital part of downtown development
• The current Moncton Public Library opened its doors in 1989 as a part of a commitment to downtown revitalization. The 47,000 sq ft facility was a foundational component of an investment into downtown revitalization by the City of Moncton, and the provincial and the federal governments.
• The library welcomes about 200,000 visitors per year, and is open 7 days a week, year round. It is a unique downtown service accessible to all, free of charge.
Current facility costs to the City of Moncton
• That investment 27 years ago secured a 65-year lease for the library with a rental fee of just $1 dollar per month, plus overhead costs, for 47,000 sq. ft. The overhead costs, which would be incurred no matter where the library is located, include heat and lights, janitorial services, elevator fees, water, etc.
• As well, thanks to a sublease agreement with the province for the library regional administrative office for 11,000 sq ft, the City of Moncton receives $300,000 in rent, lowering the cost of the library facility downtown to only $230,000 per year.
Current facility costs to the City of Moncton...part 2
• Without this long-term deal (or if library space was rented as per the same
conditions of the sublease to the province), our facility in downtown Moncton today would cost the City of Moncton approximately $980,000 per year. The current arrangement represents savings of more than $750,000 per year for citizens. Over the remaining 37 years of the lease, that constitutes a savings to the municipality of more than $27 million.
• The City of Moncton has spent over $700,000 in the past few years to
completely renovate the downtown library and create an attractive, well utilized, contemporary community hub.
Concerns over current attempts to have the library relocated
• The cost increase to the City (and therefore taxpayers) would be significant.
• The library would be placed in a less functional space with structural columns in sets of two every 12 to 15 feet and walls, blocking sight lines and creating obstacles in designing accessible library spaces.
• No room to expand or grow exists in the new development. Libraries relocating today do so with a 25 to 50 year plan for growth and expansion.
• The square footage available in the development is smaller than the current space downtown. Libraries that re-locate in Canada today move to larger spaces, often doubling or tripling their previous space.
• Professional staff are estimating a 35% reduction in both seating capacity and collection size would be necessary if the library was assigned to the space identified in the proposed development due to space restrictions.
• The development shows a large portion of the library below street level. The library can only be placed at this basement level because the upper floors are not structurally made to bear the weight of the bookshelves required for a library.
• The library would be removed from the downtown core.
• There would be significantly reduced pedestrian traffic.
• Minimal lunch time foot-traffic exists at the proposed site (there are currently close to 15,000 downtown workers, many visit the library often during busy lunch hours).
• The library would no longer be part of the downtown weekend events and festivals, including the City Market on Saturdays.
• The library would no longer be part of downtown revitalization project on the Downing Street Plaza.
• A re-location of the main library could compromise any plans to open a much needed library branch in the new North West Community Centre.
Concerns over current attempts to have the Library relocated...part 2
No consultation with proposed developer
• Despite being positioned as the major anchor tenant of this proposed development, no one from the library professional staff, its board or the provincial body overseeing libraries has been consulted on the conditions that would be necessary to properly house the Moncton Library.
• According to the provincial policies of New Brunswick Public Library Service, no new space can be developed without the approval of the regional and provincial directors. These experts have not been consulted.
The business of libraries
• Most central urban libraries in Canada are located within downtown core areas. All studies show that a library is a key part of a city’s downtown strength and success. Libraries thrive in busy places.
• Libraries are more than books. In fact, the services that the Moncton Public Library provides are vital to the continued prosperity of our downtown and all our citizens (over 1,300 free programs in the past year).
• The average cost of library development today is in excess of $450 per square foot. The retrofit budget for the proposed development is not sufficient to provide the type and quality of space which already exists at the Moncton Public Library. This space is necessary for the continued delivery of the services and programming currently provided.
•The Moncton Public Library Board members are entirely in favour of heritage preservation. Incorporating our history into our future is a key component of urban development.
•We encourage developers along with the City of Moncton and the province to explore options available so that existing services that are thriving (such as the Moncton Public Library) are not impacted or eroded when trying to support a proposed development.
•We believe more time and study should go into what is possible for revitalized spaces in our city and what benefits they could bring to the citizens of Moncton.
•The emotional attachment to this historic school has overshadowed important details that have serious implications for the Moncton Public Library. These details show that the proposed development is not advantageous to library users, not in terms of library services, nor in the financial cost to taxpayers.
•The Moncton Public Library is a vital, thriving, downtown public service.
What can be done?
•Visit the Moncton Public Library and see first-hand the variety of services offered in this very functional, contemporary, open space. It is a busy and dynamic community hub for people of all walks of life.
•Ask questions and send comments to your ward councillors, councillors-at-large, Mayor Arnold, and local MLAs to make your concerns known.