The George Mackie Library will be seeing some much-needed upgrades, thanks to an additional $80,000 in reserve funding to improve all three of Delta’s libraries.
At Delta council on Monday, April 9, council approved the use of nearly all of the city’s library reserves. The $80,000 (once approved by the Fraser Valley Regional Library) will be added to the $50,000 already approved in the 2018 business plan workshop and allow for the libraries to upgrade their furniture and lighting.
According to a staff report, Delta’s library manager and senior Fraser Valley Regional Library staff saw a need for upgrades at all three libraries, but particularly North Delta’s George Mackie Library.
“To have Fraser Valley Regional Library people go through and do a study on the state of our shelving and our chairs and things like that in the libraries, and say that they’re all in very poor condition is a bit embarrassing,” Counc. Heather Kind said at Monday night’s meeting.
“All of these different things [listed as improvements in the report], they’re not expensive by themselves — they do add up though, and we certainly appreciate that support to refresh our libraries.”
Current priorities for the Mackie include improving lighting and decor; purchasing a soundproof meeting room divider, coming in at around $10,000; replacing the study cubicles at the library, around $5,000 for 10 units; and adding soft furnishings and an accent carpet in the children’s area of the library, a cost of around $1,000.
All three libraries also need new meeting room chairs (around $14,000 for the 150 chairs between the three libraries), as well as new public seating at the Mackie and the Ladner Pioneer Library (costing between $50,000 and $60,000). The Ladner facility is also in need of new shelving ($21,000) and the Tsawassen Library needs new seating and desks for its teen zone ($10,000).
The creation of an integrated service desk at the George Mackie Library, one of the improvements identified in Delta’s library plan, has been postponed until 2019.
The report suggested hiring an interior design professional to consult on what changes were needed to help the Mackie feel brighter.
One of the frequent comments received during the public input into the library plan was that the George Mackie Library was dark, according to the city’s manager of corporate services, Sean McGill.
“Staff weren’t convinced that just changing the lighting would give it that feel,” McGill said. “We don’t want to spend money on all new lights if it’s not going to solve the problem. Let’s get some insight into different ways to brighten up a room, whether it’s paint or something like that.”
Mayor Lois Jackson questioned whether this step was needed, noting that when the library was in its old space at the North Delta Recreation Centre, a design consultant was hired and “all the money was spent on the designer, and we didn’t have any left over to do the work.”
“I’d rather be buying chairs and paint than I would a consultant,” she said.
McGill assured Jackson the consultant would cost no more than $2,000 — likely closer to $100 an hour — and the city would determine a baseline budget before entering into a contract.
These projects are only the first improvements to Delta’s libraries; the Delta library plan identified significant gaps in service at the George Mackie Library, as well as areas where that service could be improved, including increased parking spaces, better computer connectivity and exploring the use of the FVRL’s pop-up library technology to expand the geographic reach of the library.
At the 2018 business plan workshop, $100,000 was approved for 2019 and every year thereafter to accommodate library enhancements.