After 41 years at 3500 Blanshard St., the Greater Victoria Public Library board wants to know how patrons would feel about relocating across the road to Uptown Centre.
The move is not a done deal, but the proposal provides an opportunity to explore options, says Lynne Jordon library co-chief executive officer.
An open house will be held at the branch, March 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., to give patrons a chance to meet the library board and staff to review plans and gather feedback.
The current branch building has access issues for people with disabilities, no elevator and aging heating and other systems.
Relocating it was identified as the top priority in the library system’s 2010 facilities plan..
But it’s a well-loved branch, Jordon said.
“Some of the kids who grew up with that library are now bringing their kids to that library.”
The Uptown site would not be any larger than the current 8,600 square feet, but it would have more light, LEED standards for green design and construction, and would dovetail with the trend of libraries as part of one-stop shopping, Jordon said.
Built in 1972, the current structure has two floors, three entry levels and is locked between two major one-way roads, she added.
The Uptown possibility didn’t thrill several patrons interviewed Friday afternoon, with most citing a fear of more convoluted parking, although Jordon said there is extensive underground and surface parking at Uptown.
“Not impressed,” said early childhood educator Robin DiMartino, 31.
She’s not keen on a “commercial, materialistic” setting for the library nor having to trundle some distance with her toddler through rain and cold depending on where she found parking.
Elizabeth Ives, who uses a cane while walking, says people have to go up a floor to get the key to the ground-floor washroom in the existing site, so in that sense, Uptown would be “much better.”
Sydney Varley of Saanich wondered if it wouldn’t be cheaper to fix accessibility problems than to re-locate from a “very, very convenient location.”
Saanich owns the current site but would have to negotiate a lease to rent space in Uptown.
Even at the third lowest circulation out of 10 branches, 362,197 items were borrowed from the Emily Carr in 2012.
If the Carr branch, named in 1999, moves to Uptown, it will be a full-circle migration. The first branch library in the system opened in 1966 at Towne & Country Centre, where Uptown now stands.
The Greater Victoria Public Library is working with CitySpaces Consulting for public feedback and will have an online survey available from March 9 to 18 on its website, gvpl.ca.
The board will address relocation at its March 26 meeting, Jordon said.
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