Nova Scotia

Sydney library considers expansion plan

A design consulting firm has been called in to assess expansion plans for the James McConnell Memorial Library in Sydney.

A design consulting firm has been called in to assess expansion plans for the James McConnell Memorial Library in Sydney.

The  50-year-old building has more members and books than ever, head librarian Faye MacDougall says, and includes public-access computers. More than 500 of its 13,000 active members visit the library every day.

The library has simply outgrown its current location, MacDougall told CBC News.

"We have a lot of materials here now that didn't exist in 1960, so we have DVDs, new formats, we have audio books and certainly our collection has grown a lot as well," MacDougall said.

MacDougall said the library has had to take over public space to store books, and the building needs air conditioning, an elevator and other upgrades.

The library board wants to find out whether the building can be upgraded to suit its new needs or whether a new library is the solution.

Coun. Claire Dethridge, the chair of the regional library board, says a feasibility study is underway to determine how the library can expand to meet the needs of the community.

"It'll look at space, access to the building; it'll look at the air quality because there's no air conditioning — it's very hot and uncomfortable," Dethridge said. "Parking is another major area that they're going to have to look at."

Dethridge said the study by Trifos Design Consultants should be ready by late November.

She said library officials have already spoken with possible funding partners and if approved, the project, whether an expansion or new building, should be able to proceed in 2012.