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Guelph library fundraising campaign reaching goals before launch

Campaign to get new technology for new Central Library to launch in August has already raised $2.5 million
Construction of a new main library continues on Baker Street in a photo taken in May.

A multi-million dollar fundraising campaign for the Guelph Public Library hasn’t even started yet, and it’s already nearing an initial target it set for it earlier this year.

In January, then-CEO Steven Kraft said the hope for this never-before-attempted campaign, set to launch in August, was between $3 million and $3.5 million.

As of Tuesday, $2.5 million has been raised.

“It’s very gratifying to see that the community looks at the library as a critical piece of infrastructure, as an essential service,” said Danny Williamson, the chair of the Guelph Public Library board. “The response has been extraordinary.”

The money raised through this fundraiser will help fill the shell of the building with modern day technology.

“We’re looking at having a maker space with 3D printers, a recording studio, we’ve got a 100-person meeting room that we’d like to outfit with significant AV technology so that the community can run programming in there,” said acting CEO Dan Atkins.

“We’ve got a children’s programming area that we’re looking to do something interesting and innovative programming in.”

With the fundraising goal set in January within reach, Williamson suspects the number will change by the time the August launch happens.

What that number looks like will be part of ongoing conversations over the next couple months, with the new number being saved for the launch.

The Friends of the Guelph Public Library gave the campaign a major jump start with a $1 million donation. But many others have also contributed.

So much so, the GPL has earmarked $250,000 into its capital budget to integrate what it calls an “inclusive donor recognition system” into the new central library, according to a letter addressed to the mayor on Apr. 29.

The idea is a donor wall, but what it looks like is still being worked on.

“We’re looking for a technology-enabled solution that lets us incorporate new donors over time,” Williamson said.

“It’s also really important, we’re seeing some real leadership … but we also want to acknowledge people who are donating smaller amounts because the library is for everybody, this fundraising campaign is for everybody and you want to acknowledge that support as broadly as you can.”

The new library – currently budgeted at $62 million – is a three-storey, 88,000 square foot structure. It is set to be the anchor of the Baker District redevelopment.

The city announced it will install a large crane at the site this Wednesday to do “a lot of heavy lifting,” adding there will be minor traffic disruptions in the area. Work with the crane is expected to wrap up Thursday at the latest.

Both the library and parking structure are expected to open by December 2026.


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Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Originally from Timmins, ON, Mark is a longtime journalist and broadcaster, who has worked in several Ontario markets.
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