Tomorrow (15 June) is a very big day for Todd Kyle.

The Chief Executive of Newmarket Public Library will tell a joint Council and Library Board Workshop that he needs a bigger and better library.

He will tell councillors the library is too small and it is in the wrong location. He will say the library on Park Avenue is poorly designed. Staff, library users and all deliveries go through the same front door. The roof has a history of leaking. And, to cap it all, there is simply not enough space.

Way back in October 2014 Todd told an IdeaMarket programme about the future of libraries that Newmarket’s was no longer fit for purpose. He was uncharacteristically forthright – perhaps because he was talking to fellow librarians.

But now is the time for straight talking. Todd should swallow hard and tell the Mayor that Newmarket can be more than just a hockey town.

Todd should have an ally in the Mayor who chairs York Region’s Broadband Strategy Advisory Task Force. Van Bynen has spoken for years about broadband and the knowledge economy but we wait to see how this translates into action. His scripts are generally written by others. I haven’t seen anything in his “Task Force” reports that point to the centrality of libraries in the digital age.

Make no mistake. Libraries are still needed. And municipalities across Southern Ontario are building new ones which, as you can see, needn’t break the bank. 

At Wednesday’s workshop there will be a PowerPoint presentation on the options available then the meeting goes into closed session to consider:

“a proposed acquisition or disposition of land by the Town or Newmarket Public Library Board as per Section 239 (2) (c) of the Municipal Act 2001.”

This sounds suspiciously like a tease to me.

I cannot believe for one moment this Workshop will be discussing a specific proposed or pending acquisition of land. It is more likely to be a general chinwag about the range of possibilities on offer – stay where we are? Do we need a new central library? if so where? How much would it cost? Can we possibly afford it? Aren't we a hockey town? Do we need a network of branch libraries? How on earth can we afford them? Do the libraries of the future need to be physical entities with post codes?  Will the library of the future exist only in cyberspace? Isn't that the cheaper option?

If this is the discussion, it should be open to the public.

It could be quite exhilarating.

Instead, to justify going into closed session, we are fed this fairy tale about pending acquisitions of land. It is all completely phoney.

This is another example of the suffocating secrecy that is the hallmark of Van Bynen’s administration.

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