Late fall opening target for new Holly Library Branch

Holly branch will be in leased space in a plaza

A big change for residents living in Barrie’s south-end Holly neighbourhood.

Barrie Public Library CEO Lauren Jessop says the city and library are working with SmartCentres to finalize the lease agreement for a 4,500 square foot space in a plaza at 555 Essa Road.

“We’re hoping to be open by late fall,” says Jessop. “Between now and then, we will be working on leasehold improvements and ordering shelving, furniture, equipment and collections.”

“We were always planning for a space that was flexible to various needs, so luckily our plans still work as we continue to be in a pandemic.”

The Holly branch will be the Barrie Public Library’s third branch.

The space will have:

  • collections for children, teens and adults
  • spaces for patrons to bring their own device or to borrow a laptop for use in the branch (e.g. laptop bar seating, comfortable lounge chairs and tables)
  • a small meeting room
  • flexible shelving and furniture to allow for increased floor space for programs

“Collections will be displayed on shelving that uses retail principles to encourage browsing and discovery,” explains Jessop. “The space will be bright, colourful, modern, and inviting. If you’ve been down to our Painswick branch lately, you can see the same shelving there that we will be using at Holly.” 

In late June, city council approved a 2021 capital transfer fund to the Barrie Public Library for the Holly Library Branch of nearly $1.8 million, and that it be reduced by an equal amount to the value of city-funded facility capital upgrades performed at the leased facility, estimated to be about $350,000.

Annual operating costs of just under $724,000 have also been approved, and this includes $221,000 for salaries and benefits.

Jessop says operating costs will likely differ from that number due to a later than anticipated opening date.

“The planned location at Essa Rd. and Mapleton Ave. is ideal for residents to access at their convenience while out running errands. Sitting around 4,500 square feet in size, this boutique library space will offer books, movies, programs, computer access, printing, and more. Mobile shelving and furniture will allow for flexibility in the space,” notes Jessop.

In January, Jessop told city councillors they hoped to be in the Holly location space for at least 10 years.

In making a case for a third branch, library officials told city council that a survey of the Holly neighbourhood found 40 per cent said it’s too far from their home or work to access the main branch of the Barrie Public Library downtown or the Painswick location in the area of Big Bay Point Road and Yonge Street. As well, 62 per cent said they would be more likely to visit a library if it was in a convenient spot, such as a shopping plaza or community centre.

Holly will be the smallest of the three library branches.