St. Marys Library Space and Service Needs Study

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The Board and Staff of the Town of St. Marys Public Library are happy to announce that a Library Space and Service Needs Study has been completed. The study was fully funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The results of the study are being presented to the Town of St. Marys Council at its November 8th regular session.

The study highlighted the numerous successes of our Library, including that our per capita usage of the library exceeds provincial averages, as did our programs offered and our circulation. The study also lauded our committed and talented staff, our dedicated volunteers, including the Friends of the Library, and the passion that our community feels towards the St. Marys Public Library.

Additionally, it indicated some areas in need of further planning and development. In particular, the study indicates that there are physical limitations of our current space that will likely only become more pressing in coming years. In particular, the most pressing findings are:

  • The home of the library is in the Carnegie and in the downtown: The study found that the library is the anchor tenant for a viable downtown and that the community feel passionately about the Carnegie building and its rich history.
  • The physical library space is not meeting our current demand: At present, the library has only half the physical space it needs to service our population, based on library standards, and that space will face increased demands in the future. Our statistics and feedback from the public affirm that more space for collections, programming and personal use is wanted. This finding meets with overall provincial trends on libraries, where libraries are being used more, not less, and will continue to be.
  • New legislation put further constraints on our space: More space will be lost as the library strives to become compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. For example, current shelving is not compliant with the legislation, and new compliant shelving will only be able to house 2/3 of our current collection. A new elevator is also necessary.
  • The existing building requires major modernizations and heritage rehabilitations: These concerns include fixing the leaking basement, insufficient wiring and electrical for computer demands throughout the library, leaking windows, as well as the need for new shelving, a new elevator etc.

Janna Levitt, of LGA Architectural Partners, Liana Bresler, of LGA Architectural Partners and Stephen Abram, of Lighthouse Consulting made these recommendations based on extensive local consultations, as well as, comparisons to industry standards in the province for public libraries in communities our size, and a review of Municipal goals and strategic directions.

Library Chair Cole Atlin says, “Our library has grown extensively in the past 30 years since the Kinsmen Children’s Library was added. Libraries were utilised in different ways than they are today, particularly in the area of technology, and we must evaluate new ways to continue to serve the existing and future needs of our vibrant St. Marys community, including additions and expansions to our current site. The Library Board will be undertaking a systematic evaluation of the report and is looking forward to Town and public input. This report is the third of its kind, recommending a second floor addition, echoing the initial recommendation in 1988 and another 2006 report.”

The Library Board plans to have community meetings to discuss the proposals and recommendations emerging from the plan. The Library AGM is being held on November 17th at 6pm and we invite all interested to attend. Additional sessions will also be set up for early 2017.

The full report will be presented to Town of St. Marys Council on November 8th, and after that will be available online on the Library website: or in the library.

Questions regarding the study may be directed to the Library CEO Shannan Sword at or 519-284-3346 or Library Board Chair Cole Atlin at or 226-921-4266. Additionally, if you are interested in participating in further steps, please contact the Library CEO.