Ottawa Public Library Survey

If you don’t live in Ottawa you can safely ignore this post.

I’m a library service advocate. That’s rooted in my childhood days when the local Carnegie library was a 10-minute walk from my home and 3 minutes from my school. The community population today is only 5,800.

In urban Ottawa, my nearest library branch is a 75-minute walk. A library kiosk at the local community centre and bookmobile stop are promoted as filling the gap. Even so, it’s a 20-minute walk. The local population around the community centre is over 10,000.

My area is not alone in receiving sub-par service from OPL. In urban Ottawa the average distance to a library branch is 2.4 km, a 30 minute walk. In Toronto that’s 1.6 km and in Montreal 1.5 km.

You may be fortunate and live closer to a branch, or you may not care as you don’t use the OPL, only about 20% of the population are cardholders. It’s a fact that despite Ottawa’s growing population the number of cardholders has not increased.

Generally front line library staff provide  good service, but there are too many slip ups and service problems. Just yesterday, after waiting 2 months for an interlibrary loan, I was told they had overlooked ordering it. A microfilm reader that was supposed to be available at my nearest branch was not operational. Two of three library machines at our local community centre are out of service, and bookmobile hours are being curtailed with little notice.

All this to point to a survey being conducted by the OPL “to learn about people’s awareness of OPL and to gain some insight into their perceptions and impressions of the Library.”

You may not be surprised that I responded with criticisims.

If you’re in Ottawa please take some time to respond to the survey here.


3 Replies to “Ottawa Public Library Survey”

  1. The survey must have been popular, however. I received the OPL e-mail last just before 5 pm and this morning I thought I would complete the survey with my coffee in hand … at 7:45 am, the survey was “closed”!

  2. There’s only so many branches that can practically be built with the money available…I grew up in Crystal Beach – we had a bookmobile once a week, but otherwise had to drive to Centennial. OTOH, when we lived in Bells Corners b/w 1990 and 2001, I could walk to Centennial, but there’s no way OPL can build a branch in each and every neighbourhood.

    As for errors, yep, they happen – we are only human after all… The majority of library staff really do try their best not to let things slip through the cracks, but it does happen. We work hard to remind people be as careful as possible, but on super busy days, with three things happening at once, mistakes/omissions will occur – this is all in my small rural library, so I can imagine what it’s like in bigger branch libraries in a city.

    Patrons only see about 10% of the work that library staff do, trust me.

  3. When we travel to Ottawa I usually attend the Carling Library and the downtown library near the Parliament Buildings.
    The staff have always been helpful when there and do their best.
    The problem that I have had was with interlibrary loan. I waited 6 months once.

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