Barrie Public Library is looking to branch out

Leasing space in a plaza in the southwest part of the city is under serious consideration

Residents in southwest Barrie would like something closer to home when it comes to a library.

A survey done by the Barrie Public Library (BPL) last year in the Holly neighbourhood reached more than 900 people, and BPL Chief Executive Officer Lauren Jessop says the bulk of them felt the central library downtown and a smaller branch in Painswick in the city’s south end was too far of a drive.

Jessop says there was discussion years ago, prior to her arrival in Barrie, about adding a library to the Holly Community Centre, but it was considered too expensive at the time.

Jessop says the option they are looking at would be to lease space in a commercial plaza, possibly at Essa Road and Mapleton Avenue, where there is a Food Basics, a Tim Hortons and other shops, a place where people already are.

“They’re shopping, getting coffee, and that kind of thing. They can pop by the library as well. We want to make sure that it’s walkable and really convenient for the family,” says Jessop.

The BPL is still in the very early stage of any lease negotiations.

There is a $1.1 million capital budget. Jessop doesn’t believe the BPL would have to do any active fundraising because they have done many campaigns such as the Dragon Boat Festival, and Jessop says those funds have been earmarked for things such as another library branch.

“We’ve been fundraising in the past for system expansion. Now’s the time to make use of that.”

Moving into commercial leased space means capital costs would be for shelving, the collection, IT infrastructure, basically anything the library would need to put inside a branch.

Jessop is going to make a presentation to Barrie City Council on Monday night asking councillors to support this project moving forward.

She says the Holly branch would be smaller than their Painswick location.

If everything falls into place, Jessop would like a branch in Holly to open in 2021.