November 29, 2018: Rosemount Library; Looking to the Future.

November 29, 2018: Rosemount Library;
Looking to the Future.

By Josh Nutt, Chair READ Rosemount Community Group.

The Ottawa Public Library’s Rosemount Branch recently marked 100 years in its current building on 18 Rosemount Ave. Service is top-notch at Rosemount; the space leaves much to be desired. But after renovations beginning soon, Rosemount will, READ hopes, march into its second century revitalized and ready to provide improved community spaces for reading, reflection, social congregation, and study, notwithstanding the limited space the architects have to work with.

The wonderful new central libraries in Calgary, Halifax (and soon Ottawa!) herald a new era of public libraries as major and important community spaces of architectural significance that build civic pride. Equally, stunning new branch libraries in urban areas across Canada reflect branch libraries as innovative, interactive, and integrated community hubs. These branches provide powerful models for the Rosemount planning and design team as revitalization and renovation takes shape. Some examples.

Right here at home, Ottawa’s Beaverbrook and Greenboro and Kingston’s Rideau Heights branches have wonderful group study spaces. All new and renovated branches across the country have public bookable meeting rooms. Winnipeg’s Windsor Park and Victoria’s sx?e?x??? t???x? | James Bay branches are filled with an abundance of natural light. Most new branches including Markham’s Aaniin and Halifax’s tiny Musquodoboit Harbour branches have curved shelving often on wheels to provide flexibility, but with no diminution of collection size. Several library systems notably in Victoria, Markham, Winnipeg, Lethbridge and Regina have carefully developed collections, spaces and programing to respect and acknowledge Canada’s Indigenous peoples – First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

Technology underpins increasingly responsive and efficient service at renovated branches. This includes self-check and automated returns, sophisticated maker spaces and creative studios, ample and mobile public computer access, digital media labs, 24/7 wireless access, and much more. In Halifax and in some new Scandinavian libraries, even after-hours access is offered requiring no staff present.

All new branches have put an emphasis on more and varied seating for individuals and groups designed to support leisure, study, and business pursuits. Finally, most new branch libraries increasingly develop with significant community input so that the resulting expenditure of public monies responds closely to identified community needs.

Canada’s urban centres continue to put a priority on good, environmentally sensitive design. Recently five new branches were awarded LEED designation-the most widely used green building rating system in the world. LEED Silver included the Edmonton/Calder, Kingston/Rideau Heights and Winnipeg/Windsor Park branches; LEED Gold included the Toronto/Albion and Markham/Aaniin branches.

Many new/renovated/expanded branch libraries are part of a larger community complex such as Ottawa’s Greely, Beaverbrook, Greenboro and St-Laurent branches, Vaughan’s Pleasant Ridge and Vellore Village branches, Regina’s Albert Branch at mâmawêyatitân centre (a Cree word for let’s be all together) and Montreal’s Benny branch a part of the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Cultural Centre. These joint ventures, while sometimes challenging, offer enormous advantages to service opportunities.

Let’s hope that a revitalized Rosemount builds on the success of all these recent branch library developments across Canada!

Josh Nutt.

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