READ’s Presentation to the Ottawa Public Libary Board Dec 1, 2015

We are here as a group of representatives from seven community associations as well as other interested community representatives  and we are called the Rosemount Expansion and Development (READ) group. We have a number of our members with us today and you will also hear directly from representatives of associations in our catchment area.

Our concern is capital budgeting for Rosemount expansion and development in the projections for the next two years.

That budget has a notional figure of $1 million for Rosemount in 2017 and I do want to acknowledge that in a budget of $56 million with a total capital allocation of just over $7 million, that is a significant effort. I also want to acknowledge that planning money has been set aside and that perhaps until recently, relationships with the Board and staff have been good.

Our Ask to the OPL Board is actually pretty simple:

  • We are not requesting any formal change in the 2016 budget
  • We are asking that the Board reassert the priority of Rosemount expansion and development and that it work in consultation with the community, to get actual cost estimates of the options for expansion as well as renewal, in time to consider them for the 2017 budget.
  • Complete the project...whatever one has been decided on… after a full assessment, the same as has been done for at least 6 other branches while Rosemount has languished on the list… and in time for the 100th anniversary of Rosemount in 2018.

Now, I want to set out some facts.

Using the Library’s own figures for 2014 we know that:

  • Rosemount has the second largest circulation per square foot among all the branch libraries.
  • Rosemount’s circulation per square foot is over 50% higher than the next highest comparable branch and most branches operate in the teens and twenties for items circulated per square foot.
  • Our numbers are not surprising since Rosemount serves a very large area and is the only branch between the main library and the Carlingwood branch over 10 kilometers away.
  • Rosemount, nearly 100 years old, has had no significant improvements in 34 years. On the screen you see the results compared to other branches which have been brought up to date: Rosemount  is very overcrowded and by any modern library standards, quite obsolete. Expansion as well as renewal is highly desirable.
  • The Library Board has listed Rosemount as the top branch priority for the last four years but aside, from an elevator replacement, nothing has happened
  • Meanwhile 6 other branches have been renewed and/or expanded all of which were lower than Rosemount on the priority list, and some promising opportunities have passed us by.

We have consistently asked that a planning study be done, in consultation with our community.

Well, one has been done, so that could be good. But it was done without any consultation with anyone in the community. So that is not good. And, in spite of an indication that the report would be seen by us, we never received a copy from the Board. [It should be noted that this is what I said. In fact after further checking and a retransmission from the Board I find that I did in fact receive it and in a timely fashion. I have apologized to the staff and the Chair for my mistake.]

It is also a concern that the terms of reference for the study are (I quote):

  • The purpose of the report is to review the site constraints…  The report is limited to analyzing the               limitations of current zoning, constructability and building infrastructure servicing the building
  • So it is hardly surprising that the report concludes “Architecture49 has considered the possible options for increasing the floor area for this building and would not recommend any as a viable option to consider.”

That could be true, even if it is bad news for us, but there is really no way to tell. The report does not give estimates for what could be done. And it does not give any  indication of what actual improvements could be made within the existing building envelope.

To conclude:

While we appreciate the difficulty of capital budgeting in such a constrained environment we have only seen assertions of what cannot be done, and that only by a back-door route.

Four years after Rosemount was identified as the highest branch priority  we have no idea what might happen and we have not had an opportunity as a community to work with the Board to ensure the best future for our community’s library.

It should not be surprising that many in our area do not think this is enough.

Thank you.
Richard Van Loon, Chair READ

Dec 1 Visuals