Revamped Stanley A. Milner Library to mark grand opening in September

"We know Edmontonians are extremely eager to see what we've been working on for the past three years," library CEO Pilar Martinez said Tuesday.

Closed for renovation since 2016, downtown Edmonton branch to reopen Sept. 17

The city's main library is finally set to reopen next month after a renovation project that started in 2016. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

Remodelled and revitalized, the Stanley A. Milner library downtown will finally celebrate its grand opening Sept. 17 after being closed for more than three years.

The celebration will include "a digital ribbon cutting using the multi-storey interactive digital wall," and live performances, the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) said in a media notice Tuesday.

"We know Edmontonians are extremely eager to see what we've been working on for the past three years," said Pilar Martinez, CEO of EPL.

"While there have been some mixed reactions on the exterior of our building, we're extremely proud of our revitalized library and all that we've accomplished inside and out. We can't wait for everyone to experience it for themselves."

The library, which overlooks Sir Winston Churchill Square, has been closed for construction since 2016.

City council approved the project in 2014, with a budget of $62.5 million, which increased to $69 million in 2016.

As of late 2017, the total budget was $84.5 million. The increase was due to "unanticipated issues," the library said on its website in 2019.

Since the start, there has been an expectation that EPL contribute $10 million to the project through fundraising.

Its controversial exterior design has led some observers to compare it to a tank or warship.

The building was originally set to reopen in February but the date was delayed due to "complexities" in the renovation project, Martinez said late last year.

The new library has more than 150,000 items to borrow, including 10,000 new items.

It also has a larger children's library, a 10,000-square-foot Makerspace, an Indigenous gathering space called Thunderbird Lodge, Gamerspace and a Fresh Finds collection featuring recommendations from local celebrities.

The new library has more than 150,000 items available for borrowing. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

The grand opening will follow Alberta Health guidelines for COVID-19. Physical distancing, limited capacity, mandatory face coverings and increased hand hygiene measures will be followed to ensure the health and safety of staff and customers.

Due to COVID-19 limitations, only a select number of patrons will be able to attend the celebration through what the library calls a Golden Ticket Giveaway. Tickets will be hidden at all open library locations from Aug. 27 through Sept. 5.

The grand opening will be livestreamed so people can participate from anywhere in the city.

Media will get a sneak preview of the library on Sept. 15.