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City three library branch need major overhaul, study says

Published on

George Mathewson

Lambton County should renovate and expand all three Sarnia library branches to meet provincial standards and satisfy a growing demand for cultural programs, a new study says.

It recommends major overhaul of the downtown main branch, doubling the size of the Mallroad branch and adding an addition to Bright’s Grove.

Changes are needed because the libraries aren’t compliant with accessibility regulations and their power and cooling systems are old and inadequate, according to the report prepared by Lighthouse Consulting and LGA Architectural Partners.

The $30,000 study, approved in 2015, looked at user statistics, services offered and the layout of floor space needed in a modern community library.

The study concludes the Lambton County Library system is well managed and operates at a low cost per capita. In fact, it usually ranks in the top five on traditional library measurements, according to its authors.

A survey determined Sarnians are “extremely passionate” about their libraries and the main branch’s role as a downtown anchor.

But the study claims they want more — more books, more programs and more integration with other community services, especially for teens, adults and seniors.

The recommendations include:

MAIN BRANCH: Open it up to the street and Veteran’s Park, separate teen from adults spaces, turn the second-floor exterior deck into an outdoor reading area, and better integrate space for exhibits and the theatre. The downtown branch, which is owned by Sarnia but operated by the county, had already been identified in a 2014 building report as needing millions of dollars in repairs. Some upgrades, including new washrooms, have already been done.

BRIGHT’S GROVE: Build a one-storey addition behind the historic home while maintaining its heritage, better integrate the library with Gallery in the Grove, and build an outdoor deck shared by both facilities.

MALLROAD: Double the size of the existing branch to meet community needs. Though the report doesn’t mention it, the lease on the Lambton Mall Road location expires on Dec. 31.

Representatives from Lighthouse and LGA were scheduled to make a presentation to city council on Monday.

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