Colonial Building ideal spot for public library, woman argues

A St. John's woman says the former centre of Newfoundland's government would make a great refuge for bookworms.

Katrina Taliana raised idea for new library in recent column in The Overcast

The Colonial Building has been undergoing refurbishments over the last few years with plans for a new political museum that would showcase the history of the Newfoundland legislature both before and after joining Canada. (Twitter/@cprose83)

A St. John's woman says the former centre of the Newfoundland government would make a great refuge for bookworms.

I feel like any major city has a library right downtown.- Katrina Taliana

In a recent issue of the Overcast, Katrina Taliana wrote a letter to the editor calling for the Colonial Building on Military Road to be used as a public library.

Katrina Taliana felt so strongly about the need for a public library in downtown St. John's that she wrote an letter to the editor in the Overcast about it. (Submitted by Katrina Taliana)

The Colonial Building, which once housed Newfoundland's national — and later provincial — legislature, is currently undergoing refurbishment, to be turned into a museum showcasing the province's political history both before and after Confederation.

But Taliana says the building could be home to more than a museum.

"Every week we go down to Bannerman Park, and every week I look through the windows of a beautiful building and I think, 'Wow, that would be a great space for a library,'" she told CBC's On The Go.

"I feel like any major city has a library right downtown."

The Halifax Central Library, which opened in 2014, is located in the city's downtown core. Katrina Taliana recently wrote a letter to the Overcast arguing that St. John's should also have a downtown library, and that the Colonial Building would be the perfect location.

With the recent revitalization of Bannerman Park, and the Rooms only a short walk away, Taliana says the area would be an ideal place for both tourists and locals to go to the library.

She understands that there are other plans for the Colonial Building, but says a small library could still be accommodated along with the museum.

"I think there is room to keep it as both," she said. "The library doesn't have to be huge. The section for books doesn't have to be massive. It could be a few rooms here and there, and then also incorporating that museum aspect of it."

The Colonial Building was the home of the Newfoundland government and the House of Assembly from Jan. 28, 1850, to July 28, 1959. In 1974 it was declared a Provincial Historic Site.

It's been a rough few years for the province's public libraries, with government reviewing whether to close dozens across the province. But Taliana says money could be allocated from other areas to make a Colonial Building library happen.

She's hoping her column will get enough people interested in the idea that it might gain some momentum.

"It's just an idea, but I think that if enough people like it, if it is in any way feasible, then people should run with it," she said. "It's a great space, a great central location and I really think it would be good."

The province did not respond to CBC's request for comment.

With files from On The Go