Thunder Bay Public Library Unveils New Master Facilities Plan: More Space, Increased Hours, and Cost-Neutral Improvements

Thunder Bay Public Library
Thunder Bay Public Library

THUNDER BAY, ON – The Thunder Bay Public Library has released its eagerly awaited June 2024 Master Facilities Plan report, proposing significant enhancements to the library system.

Last June, the City Council supported the creation of a new Central Library branch and the exploration of either a three-branch or four-branch system as alternatives to the current setup. The 2024 report, informed by extensive study by Library Management and City Administration, includes detailed financial analysis and contributions from Brook McIlroy for design, TBT Engineering for engineering work, and A.W. Hooker Associates Ltd. for independent cost verification.

Addressing Community Concerns

The Master Facilities Plan responds to three primary issues raised by the community over the past three years: insufficient operating hours, inadequate space for collections and programming, and accessibility challenges.

Cost-Neutral Capital Investment

The report reveals that maintaining the current system’s capital costs would equal or exceed those of creating a new system with a Central Library. “Investing in outdated infrastructure is not cost-effective,” stated Library CEO Richard Togman. “The numbers show that building a new branch in Intercity, where long-term capital costs do not burden taxpayers, is more beneficial. For the same investment, we can have a new library with over 40% more space.”

Increased Library Space

Both proposed scenarios result in significant increases in library space. The four-branch system would offer a 49% increase in square footage compared to the status quo, while the three-branch system would provide a 42% increase.

Head Librarian Ruth Hamlin-Douglas emphasized the importance of this additional space. “Our ability to offer programming is currently limited,” she said. “Each branch, except for County Park, has only one programming room. With a Central Library, we can offer concurrent programming for parents and children, as well as accommodate teen programs and community groups.”

Extended Operating Hours

The new system would optimize staffing to extend library hours. The proposed Central location would be open evenings and weekends, while other branches maintain their current hours, resulting in a 26% overall increase in library hours.

Report Access and Presentation

The June 2024 Master Facilities Plan report is available for download from the Thunder Bay Public Library’s website at www.tbpl.ca/central. The report will be presented to City Council on July 22, 2024.

Background: Thunder Bay Public Library

The Thunder Bay Public Library’s 2024-2028 Strategic Plan focuses on collaboration, innovation, and experimentation with community partners and users. The library prioritizes sharing knowledge and providing opportunities to learn, share, and build community.

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