Sears store potential home for new Saskatoon central library

"Everything is still an option" for relocating Saskatoon Public Library's central branch — even moving to the current home of departing retailer Sears, says the head of the library's board.

'Everything is still an option,' says head of library board

The Sears store in Saskatoon's Midtown Plaza. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

"Everything is still an option" for relocating Saskatoon Public Library's central branch — even moving to the current home of departing retailer Sears, says the head of the library's board.

"We would put it on the table as a possible site that we would look at after we've completed our engagements and understand what it is the public wants to see in a new central library," said Carol Cooley, the CEO of the library's board of governance.

The Sears location will be in play once the retailer, which is liquidating its remaining locations, leaves the Midtown Plaza.  

Public outreach starting in January

Cooley was questioned by city councillors earlier this week about the library's plan to reach out to the public for input on a new central library branch.

Cooley said public consultations will begin in January, likely end in March, and then spur a 12- to 18-month process to produce an economic assessment for city councillors.

She said the public consultation "will inform the direction the project takes."

Non-compliant with building codes

Cooley said renting from an existing space — as had been contemplated in the past, at the former home of the Saskatoon Police Service on Fourth Avenue — is also an option.

"As far as I'm aware, everything is still an option," she said.

The Frances Morrison Central Library in Saskatoon is non-compliant with multiple building codes, and has been for at least 17 years. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The current central hub, the Frances Morrison Central Library, was built in 1966 and is "non-compliant with all significant building codes, including fire, mechanical, electrical and accessibility," said Cooley. She added that those deficiencies have be known for 17 years.

Design consultant hired

Besides improving on those conditions, the library wants to move to what it has described as a "community-led service model" for the new central location.

The library sole-sourced a contract with a consultant to help with the design of that new service model, to the tune of $27,400, according to information shared with Coun. Bev Dubois. (The board had budgeted $44,000 for the contract.)

The consultant hired was B.C.-based Cheryl Stenstrom, whom Cooley described as a "preeminent scholar in public libraries" who "came highly recommended from other colleagues."

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

Reporter and web writer for CBC Saskatoon

Story tips, ideas, complaints, just want to say 'Hi'? Write me at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

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