Waterloo to spend $3M to renovate Carnegie Library for future use

Waterloo's Carnegie Library on Albert Street is set to be renovated after city council approved spending $3 million to improve accessibility.

Two-storey building requires upgrades for accessibility to meet current building code

The City of Waterloo has approved spending of $3 million to upgrade and renovate the city's Carnegie Library for future use. (Google StreetView)

Waterloo will be spending $3 million to renovate the city's Carnegie Library for future use.

The Carnegie Library on 40 Albert St. was previously occupied by Habitat for Humanity, but it's currently sitting vacant and is in need of improvements before a new tenant moves in, city council was told Monday.

The two-storey building requires upgrades relating to accessibility and making sure the building is in line with current building code requirements. 

Part of the accessibility upgrades will see an elevator installed in the building. 

"The community tells us loud and clear that heritage matters, particularly in parts of the city that are under intensification," Coun. Tenille Bonoguore said in an interview. 

Waterloo's Carnegie Library was built in 1903 at a cost of $9,100, with funding from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie, who made his money in the steel industry, donated more than $56 million to build libraries around the world.

The Waterloo library was designed by the city's engineer at the time, Charles Moogk, the library's website says. The current library across the street from the Carnegie Library opened on June 11, 1966. For a number of years, the Carnegie Library served as an office for Waterloo regional police.

'They become a landmark'

Phil Carter, an architect with Phillip H. Carter Architect and Urban Planning in Toronto and a heritage consultant, said Carnegie Libraries can preserve history while providing a modern space.

That's why putting money toward their upkeep is important, he said.

"They have that kind of history and they can be modernized to perform modern functions," he said.

"I believe that having that continuation of our heritage is a nice thing to have. They become a landmark to the city while other things change."

Bonoguore said she hopes the city can work with future tenants of the Carnegie Library to find ways where the public can also have access to the building as well.

"I would really like to find a way for the public to feel ownership and be part of this history and heritage that's right in our core," she said.


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