Library lovers pitch ideas for 'long overdue' new central branch

New technology, more community spaces, and better accessibility — those are just a few of the ideas people pitched Saturday for Ottawa's new $192-million central library, set to be built by 2024.

People got to see initial plans at public consultations held this week

More than 200 people attended a public consultation held Saturday, March 2, on Ottawa's future central library branch. The new facility is expected to be built by 2024. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

New technology, more community spaces, and better accessibility.

Those are just a few of the things that people attending a public consultation Saturday on Ottawa's new central library want to see in the $192-million facility.

The building, to be located at 555 Albert St., is a joint project between the City of Ottawa and Library and Archives Canada. 

Organizers said registration for Saturday's consultation at the Nepean Sportsplex was full, and that about 200 people were there. 

This concept design provides an aerial view of Ottawa's new central library. (City of Ottawa)

The final design of the new library will be presented in late 2019, with construction expected to be complete by 2024.

There was also a public consultation on Thursday, and more are scheduled in the coming months. People will also be able to provide their feedback online.

Architect Don Schmitt says the building will be near the urban core and have fantastic views. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Taking advantage of opportunities

"I think what we are very interested in is the community views about what constitutes a great library," said architect Don Schmitt, who led Saturday's consultation.

"But also, what are the opportunities for … taking the extraordinary opportunities of this site and turning them to [our] advantage?" 

Architects have already come up with initial concept designs, which were presented to the public Saturday. Attendees broke out into smaller groups to talk about what they thought.

People are giving their feedback this week about the new central library planned to open in about five years. (City of Ottawa)

"There was a young guy [who was] maybe nine or 10 years old, who was talking about [whether we] could we make the roof like a maple leaf that dripped water .. onto the escarpment," Schmitt said.

There's sort of provocative ideas that begin to get the design thoughts going.— Don Schmitt, architect

"There's sort of provocative ideas that begin to get the design thoughts going."

Melissa Nisbett said she comes from a family of avid readers, and hopes the new library branch will reflect Ottawa's changing community. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

'A community hub'

The architects' plans include reading rooms, book stacks, work areas, an auditorium, exhibition space, meeting places, and maker spaces. 

People who attended Saturday's session, like Melissa Nisbett, said they wanted to take the opportunity to have their voice and priorities heard by the design team. 

"[It should be] more of a community hub [with] The ability for immigrants and new Canadians and other people to come together. Also a meeting space for children and probably design spaces," said Nisbett.

Gregory Kam said one thing he'd like to see at the future central library is a wide selection of movies and video games. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

'Long overdue'

Rell DeShaw lives near the library site and said she's most concerned about accessibility. 

"There's a lot of traffic, so I'm hoping there'll be many access points that are friendly to pedestrians and bikes," said DeShaw.

"It'll be lovely to see a future where this magnificent building has a lot of clear access points and it's very friendly to people on foot." 

Ideas pour in for new Ottawa library

3 years ago
Duration 0:31
Avid book readers and library goers like Gregory Kam and Melissa Nisbett pitched their ideas Saturday for Ottawa's new $192-million central library.

Gregory Kam uses the library often, taking his kids there for researching and studying, and said he hoped there would be innovative technologies available at the new central facility.

"There's a lot of things that you could do at the library that you couldn't do traditionally, like video editing, like 3D printing. A lot of the new technology — a lot of times you get exposed to that first at the library, and I'd like to support that," said Kam. 

"I think it's an exciting part of the city's development to have a new library. I think it's long overdue."


Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.


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