Let's Talk Libraries: Downtown Revitalization & Community Building beginning with Engagement

Vince recently completed his fourth library-focused engagement project, helping engage 6,000 people from across Winnipeg in the "Inspiring Ideas" project. This staff-led strategic planning process helped shape goals and priorities for the future of the whole library system, which is a critical part of the City's strategy for community development and social inclusion.

A recent Globe and Mail article, talks about how cities are increasingly investing in libraries as part of urban development and planning, and references the new downtown Calgary library. The Calgary New Central Library engagement process took 5 months of Vince's time in 2012 and involved 14,000 people in setting out the "functional priorities" for the design of that $200 million facility.

The article quotes Mr. Wadih Fares, who sees Halifax's new Central Library as the spark to inspire downtown growth and revitalization. He says, “It will ignite the whole fire.”  

Considering the investment that cities are making in building their libraries ($57m in Halifax, $245m in Calgary) and improving the public realm around them ($345m public improvement fund in Calgary), investing in an engagement process for the new libraries can really pay off. Early and ongoing engagement on architecture, the functional program, and even more basic questions like, "What does it mean to be a library in the 21st Century?" can create much-loved public spaces that anchor and secure future development.