Saturday, 24 October 2015

NEW! October 2015 Town of W-S Library Expansion Proposal (16,000 sq.ft. library addition) & presentation.


  • Current facility: 14,215 sq.ft. (or 15,425 sq.ft. incl. shared municipal space), built in 2001 for a population of 22,859 (= prov. minimum recommended 0.65 sq.ft. per capita). Population June 2015: 46,485. 
  • Provincial guidelines for a central, stand-alone library building in Ontario, serving between 35,000 and 75,000 residents65,625 sq. ft minimum (= 5x larger than current library; size of Stouffville Canadian Tire Store with Garden Centre).
  • Expansion plans have been postponed annually since 2007: first to '09, then '10, then '12, then '14. In 2014 plans were developed to allow a new council "to hit the road running" (Emmerson)--with an additional 21,995 sq. ft. library space. In 2015 these plans were rejected by a new mayor and council, with a smaller proposal of 16,000 additional sq.ft. (27% reduction)--an appropriate minimum for a 2016 population but, like in 2001, not planned for growth.

Background:  2011 Whitchurch-Stouffville Library Petition (400+ signatories; presented to Town Council)

Purpose: To raise awareness of the significant materials, space, and staffing needs of the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library, and of long-term funding neglect.

"We, residents of Whitchurch-Stouffville, petition Town Council to develop and approve a plan to increase per person library funding to the provincial average by 2015, and to begin immediately to develop plans for a library expansion" (click to sign online petition)

This petition reflects the "key issues" identified by the Library in the 2011 Budget Plan (p. 235): "Adequate funding to sustain and grow the Library; Staffing limitations; Space constraints" (NB: "sustain ... library" already added 2009; see also Board SWOT Analysis)

2013 Update

  • In 2011 first new full-time position created in over a decade--but only at the cost of flat-lining material acquisitions at 2010 levels and cutting back hours of part-time employees.
  • 2001 (pop. 22,859): 9.61 staff (full-time equivalent); Library visitors in person: 100,150; circulation: 116,166 
  • 2008 (pop. 32,000; up 40% from '01): 9.91 staff (up only 3% from '01); Library visitors in person: 173,300 (2008; up 73%); circulation: 171,198 (up 47% from '01)
  • Provincial guidelines: 1 staff per 2000 residents, or 22 Library staff (FTE) for W-S's current population of 44,000. In 2011, the Library was able to hire a 10th staff (FTE).
  • Library portion of Town's operating expenses dropped from 5.1% in 2004 to 3% in 2007 and to an historic low of 2% in 2011.
  • Between 2009 and 2010, per capita funding for the Library dropped 8%, from $25.43 to $23.44. In the same year, Recreation programming & facilities increased 34%, from $127.06 to $170.33
  • Between 2006 and 2010, per person expenditures for the Library has declined from $29.39 to $23.44. In 2009, we were 43% below the provincial average for communities our size (2010 BMA, p. 124; compare 2013 BMA Municipal Study). In contrast, W-S's recreation programming and facilities funding has averaged 11% above the provincial avg. levels. 
The Library Board's 2009 SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis notes the following key weaknesses and threats:
  • "Limited space, ... continuous under-funding affect[ing] staffing and resources, ... disconnect/lack of shared vision between library board/staff and municipal council/staff" (p.15).

A pillar of the Town's corporate strategy since at least 2006 has been "balanced growth and community sustainability." The Library plays a critical role in community sustainability--intellectual, social, and cultural.
In each of the last three years, the Library Board/ Administration has drawn attention to the significant threats and weaknesses to this aspect community's social infrastructure (Budget Reports 2009'10'11).
It is now time for Town Council to act.

Petition Coordinator: Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, PhD, MA

    Next steps: Please continue to make your views known to the mayor and ward councillors;

    High school students in particular should let council know if the Library is sufficient for your academic and meeting needs.

Bkgd to Jan 2012 Town Budget Meeting: (see budget here, pp. 225-238).