Ottawa

Rosemount library report should be made public, says group wanting expansion

A group advocating for expansion of a Hintonburg library is calling upon the city to publicly release a report about its future.

No major renovations in more than 30 years for one of city's busiest branches

A new report is advising against adding a third storey to the heavily-used Rosemount Library, the city's oldest library branch. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC Ottawa)

A group advocating for the city's oldest library branch is calling upon the City of Ottawa to publicly release a report suggesting the heavily-used library shouldn't be expanded.

The Rosemount Expansion and Development Group (READ) says the Rosemount branch of the Ottawa Public Library in the city's Hintonburg neighbourhood is the busiest library in terms of circulation and visits per square feet.

READ says it's time for the branch to be expanded since it was built in 1918 and hasn't had any major renovations since 1982, while the neighbourhood it serves has grown "substantially."

The Ottawa Public Library board commissioned a $100,000 study on expanding or modernizing the branch, which READ chair Richard Van Loon said the board received several weeks ago.

However, the report hasn't been made public, and READ wasn't able to study it until they got a bootleg copy — now posted to their website — a few days ago.

"If it turns out that expansion is very difficult or impossible…we want to know why and we'd like to be involved in the actual planning of what will happen," he said.

Report goes against expansion

The report recommends against expansion because of how old and how close to a soon-to-be-completed condo the library is, claiming the cost of adding a third floor would be comparable to demolishing the building and replacing it with a new three-storey building on the same site.

 Van Loon said the city should keep looking at adding a floor because replacing the building isn't likely.

Opened in 1918, the Rosemount branch of the Ottawa Public Library is both the oldest and one of the city's most visited. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC Ottawa)

"A third floor addition that adds more space would serve the existing vast overcrowding of the place better… that would be a great solution if a way could be found to do it," he said. 

Van Loon said the city has committed a million dollars to the Rosemount branch in the 2017 library board budget.

"Where did that number come from? It's certainly not a number that's come up in the report that we've seen, it seems to be a sort of off the top of the head number" he said.

"Even if expansion isn't possible, a million dollars isn't an awful lot [of money] to do a re-fit of a library that is egregiously overcrowded and technically very obsolete."

The study is scheduled to be discussed at the library board's meeting on Dec. 1. Ottawa Public Library Board Chair Tim Tierney was not available for comment.

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