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Old Posted May 15, 2018, 3:21 PM
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Location: Saskatoon, SK
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SPL plans to pitch city council on new central branch next year

Alex MacPherson, Saskatoon StarPhoenix Alex MacPherson, Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Published on: May 15, 2018 | Last Updated: May 15, 2018 7:00 AM CST

The Saskatoon Public Library plans to spend the next 12 months building its case for a new downtown library branch before pitching the idea to city council next spring.

After three decades of musing about replacing the 52-year-old Frances Morrison Central Library, the Saskatoon Public Library launched the first public consultations on the matter earlier this year.

Procurement documents published this week show the library now wants to hire a consultant to “articulate the case for change and the need for new library infrastructure investment,” as well as develop a budget and do economic studies.

The current facility has multiple deficiencies, including fire code violations, and was built to serve “traditional public library functions of collection development and quiet individual study” for a city of 115,000 people, the documents state.

A new central library is envisioned as “future-proof in both its architecture and digital design — allowing our spaces and services to be more responsive and agile to changing demands in the years to come,” according to the documents.

In an interview last week, SPL director of public service Beth Cote said the consultant will, aided by feedback from the public, develop a list of requirements for a new public library branch.

While new libraries in other cities share some common elements, it’s too early to speculate what a new central branch might look like, or where it will be, as the project is in its “very early days,” she said.

The library estimates it would take at least five years to complete a new library once the project is approved.

SPL CEO Carol Cooley estimated in 2016 that a new downtown branch could cost between $80 and $120 million — a figure Cote said is based on costs in other cities and remains current until more specific information is available.

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