PEI

Charlottetown's new public library to open July 18

The new Charlottetown Library Learning Centre, in the Dominion Building at 25 Queen St., has announced its opening date.

New 40,000-square-foot library has makerspace, program rooms, café

A look inside the new Charlottetown public library

5 months ago
Duration 3:32
Librarian Beth Clinton takes us on a tour of the new Charlottetown Library Learning Centre.

Charlottetown's new public library will officially open its doors to the public on July 18.

The new Charlottetown Library Learning Centre, in the Dominion Building at 97 Queen St., was first announced in 2019 and fell behind schedule due to COVID-19, labour shortages and supply chain issues.

Now the updated and expanded facility will finally be shown off to the public. 

"It's a great feeling of satisfaction and excitement and just really, really happy to be able to welcome folks in," said Beth Clinton, regional librarian with the P.E.I. Public Library Service. 

The inside of a library with armchairs, tables, and shelves full of books.
The new library has plenty of seating for people to 'just sit and read and just be in this space,' says regional librarian Beth Clinton. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

Aesthetically, the new library has a much different feel than the old one across the street in the Confederation Centre, which first opened 57 years ago. 

There are large windows, a modern design, more space and plenty of comfortable seating. 

"Libraries are much more now a community space, a community hub," said Clinton. 

"So they're more designed for folks to come in and visit and spend a lot more time."

Cafe area with chairs and tables, espresso machine, and a view out large windows onto the street.
The front of the library overlooks Queen Street and has a café, seating area and outdoor terrace. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

When visitors first walk into the library, they see not only a welcome desk and public computers, but also a café and seating area. 

The café will be operated by The Shed coffee shop. 

"Folks can come in, get their coffee, sit in the front window on rainy days, sit outside on nice days and just enjoy the space," said Clinton. 

"We're not just book warehouses, we're a community space, so it's just a totally different aesthetic."

Carpeted room with a colourful childrne's mat, children's books, and two large screens, with large windows looking out into the main library.
The children's program room, a space for storytime and other programs, is enclosed and separate from the rest of the children's library. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

Opposite the café is the children's library and program room. 

"We're very excited to have this separate space that is sort of distinct from the rest of the library where the kids can come in," said Clinton. 

The program room is a new addition that means kids' programs can get noisy without bothering others, said Clinton. 

"It used to be, programs just happened in the middle of the library. Well, now we have a dedicated room where folks can go in and take part in the storytime," she said. 

The front view of the new library with a terrace and glass atrium.
The library sits in the heart of downtown Charlottetown in the Dominion Building which was once a post office. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

In the old library, Clinton could hear the kids' programs from her office. 

"I got to listen to several renditions of The Wheels on the Bus … while I enjoyed it, it was maybe not the best environment for working."

3D printers on a table. The one in the foreground is printing a green toy.
The makerspace has 3D printers and other tech equipment that visitors will be able to learn to use through classes and programs. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

Another new addition to the library is a makerspace, which will hold programs and classes for kids, teens and adults. 

"We've never had a space like this before in the library, so we're very excited," said Clinton. 

The makerspace has 3D printers, sewing machines, virtual reality headsets and craft supplies.

Other new facilities include an auditorium, audio studio and community kitchen.

The back part of the library that includes the auditorium and kitchen will be available to rent out for community events. 

Hours extended Monday nights

One of the things Clinton is most excited about? 

"This may sound a little strange, but having so many washrooms that are accessible for anybody. We're all very excited about that," she said. 

The former library had no accessible washrooms. 

To expand its reach even more, the library will now be open late on Monday nights, as well as Tuesday through Thursday.

Clinton said they are looking forward to seeing an increase in visitors. 

"When a community builds a new library, as a rule, their circulation and the amount of visitors they get go up by about 50 per cent," she said. 

"So we're looking forward to having lots of folks in."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isabelle Gallant is a radio producer and web writer who has worked for CBC in Edmonton and Toronto. She grew up in Halifax and Charlottetown and is happy to be back home on P.E.I.

With files from Julien Lecacheur and Jane Robertson

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