Another white elephant?

The borrowing volume for the downtown and branch libraries  turns out 1.8 million items we lent out in 2009, approximately 430,000 of these items were DVDs and CDs.  That’s right, we have turned our libraries into Blockbusters.  Some of these may be educational but most appear to be movies.

When you look at the data by branch, our branches appear to be thriving.  This makes sense.  People would rather use the library in their own community than travel downtown.

Looking back to 1980 when there were no branches or DVDs  everything lent out then was books\magazines. In 1980, the downtown library lent out 526,000 books.  Today, when you back out the DVDs, the downtown library lent out 488,000 books – 38,000 less than it did 30 years ago when Guelph’s population was much less than today.

So the downtown library lending of books shrinks and the branches thrive.

The city has spent $5 million buying downtown buildings to build a $50 million downtown library so we can lend out DVDs?  Another Farbridge monument in the making.

The miracle is the downtown library can be studied carefully by the new council with a view of making it more practical, less expensive and useful for citizens of all ages.

My thanks to Patrick Quirk for his spadework on this issue.

Gerry Barker is a retired newsman and author. He may be reached at

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