What will Coquitlam library branches look like in 20 years?
That’s the question facing city hall and the Coquitlam Public Library (CPL) board as they ready for massive growth in the municipality over the next two decades.
Monday (July 5), the city’s council-in-committee heard about a study happening in the next year that would see a consultant look at the library’s current gaps as well as national and international trends — especially for online services and technology — and neighbourhoods where library branches could be built.
The $100,000 study is being paid for equally by both organizations.
According to a city report, Coquitlam will see the biggest changes in the following areas:
- City Centre: 24,000 more residents
- Burquitlam-Lougheed: 21,000 more residents
- Partington Creek: 15,000 to 20,000 more residents
- Northwest Burke: 10,200 more residents
- Fraser Mills: 9,600 more residents
- Maillardville: 7,800 more residents
- Austin Heights: 7,000 more residents
The results of the Library Facilities and Services Study — the first of its kind for CPL and the city — and its final report will form part of the city’s Major Recreational and Cultural Facilities Road Map; public input will be sought in November before council sees the draft report next summer.
The library board OK’d the study scope and terms of reference in May, with the aim to tie in new library branches with future development in Coquitlam including leveraging storefronts, capturing rezoning and high-density construction.
Currently, Coquitlam has two branches serving 150,000 residents: the City Centre branch (1169 Pinetree Way) is 34,500 sq. ft. and started operations in 2012 after moving from its city hall location while the Poirier branch (575 Poirier St.) is 24,650 sq. ft. and was built in 1989, with its last renovation in 2009.
As well, mobile services to underserved neighbourhoods are provided through the Library Link bus.
Coun. Craig Hodge pressed for planning to start on the Burke library branch as the city is now building the Partington Creek neighbourhood — on the east side of the mountain — that will include a northeast community centre.
He said library branches have evolved to public “living rooms” as well as book hubs and resource centres. And he pointed to the recent heat wave when the two branches were turned into cooling centres and thousands of Coquitlam residents flocked to sought refuge.
“We have become the place to go,” executive director Todd Gnissios told Tri-City News, noting the library is the only organization that has a mandate to bring the community together. “We are convenient and relevant.”
Even during the pandemic, he said, the library saw high circulation numbers and there was customer pressure to open up space — especially to connect with the free Wi-Fi.
During the committee meeting, Coun. Dennis Marsden cited the example of the Halifax library, which also offers community programs such as early childhood learning.
“The hard book is not going to go away,” he said, adding the library offers affordable options for residents who can’t buy reading and learning materials.