GUELPH POLITICAST #88 – Steve Kraft, CEO of Guelph Public Library

A lot of people probably remember a row between then-Toronto Councillor Doug Ford and vaunted Canadian author Margaret Atwood over supporting libraries, and not closing branches in order to save the City money. Well, six years later Ford is out of council and Atwood is more popular than every because of The Handmaid’s Tale TV series. You know what else is more popular than ever? 

Yes, you don’t hear a lot of calls to close the public library anymore. Maybe it’s because the library, as a place to borrow things like books and DVDs, is one of the last places you can find and use physical media without paying an arm and a leg for it. But maybe it also has to do with changes that the library itself has made over the last couple of years. The library still has all the books you can ever read, but it’s also got new technology, digital archives, and can even allow you to access virtual reality!

Libraries across the country are trying to define what it means to be a library, which includes the Guelph Public Library, and by and large those efforts seem to have been successful in Guelph. According to GPL’s own annual report over 59,700 people in Guelph have a library card, and last year they borrowed over 2.3 million items, not to mention accessing library services like the internet, physical and digital newspaper archives, 3D printing, ebooks, and numerous workshops, lectures and public forums. The public library, in other words, still plays a central role in the Information Age.

So who better to talk about all this with than Steve Kraft? He came up through the stacks, and now sits in the corner office, and for three years, he’s governed over a difficult transition period for the library as its tried to find its place in a world where information is as close as a Google search. This week on the podcast, I talk to Kraft about some of those challenges, the potential limitations of the library, what the library means for customers in the 21st century, and where the library is going, physically, in the not-to-distant future.

So let’s go to down to Norfolk Street, and that hub of knowledge, skills and general ephemera still called the main branch of the Guelph Public Library, for this week’s Guelph Politicast.

To learn more about the Guelph Public Library and stay about to date about upcoming events and activities, you can go to its website here.

The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday’s episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

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