PEI

New Charlottetown library will have 'something for everyone'

A new chapter is about to begin for patrons and staff of the main branch of P.E.I. Public Library.

New space will more than double the size of current main library

The new library will be located in the Dominion Building in downtown Charlottetown, between Queen and Pownal streets. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

A new chapter is about to begin for patrons and staff of the main branch of the P.E.I. Public Library.

Construction of a larger and more modern $16 million library in Charlottetown was announced Wednesday afternoon. It will be built across the street from the current library, on the ground floor of the Dominion Building.

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It will serve what the province, in a news release, said are changing needs of Islanders. The updates to the library will include everything from Wi-Fi to baby story time, teen programs and tech training for seniors. 

"I can't picture a better way to make such an impact in downtown Charlottetown than this library learning centre," said Dawn Alan, executive director of Downtown Charlottetown Inc., in an interview on CBC News: Compass

"The libraries of the future are an opportunity for newcomers to come and spend the day ... youth groups can have areas free for social activities, seniors groups might meet ... it's just a big space for everything positive in our downtown."

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The current library has an average of 5,000 visitors a week, according to the province. 

The new space will be double the size of the current main branch in the Confederation Centre to accommodate more programming and technology.

The library is currently in Confederation Centre. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Libraries in the 21st century are about much more than books, said Jinny Greaves, executive director of the P.E.I. Literacy Alliance.

"They are also community hubs, places to experience new ideas and get lost in wonderful stories, as they support literacy and lifelong learning," she said.

In 2016, a consultant's report determined the library required significantly more space to meet current demand and future growth, and recommended exploring a move to a larger and more accessible space.

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Downtown Charlottetown Inc. and community partners formed the non-profit Charlottetown Library Learning Centre Inc. to secure funding, which includes funding from the city.

The total cost for the project will be close to $16 million. Charlottetown Library Learning Centre Inc. will contribute more than $4.4 million, the province at least $5.2 million, and the federal government more than $6.3 million.

Once completed, the new 40,000-square-foot facility will feature a media/technology lounge, an art gallery, a second floor terrace and a café.

The new library is expected to open its doors in the summer of 2020.

"You'll be able to feel the creativity flow out onto the street and the welcome mat will always be out," Alan said. 

"There will always be something for everyone inside, at all times." 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Steepe

Video Journalist

Tom Steepe is an award-winning video journalist with CBC P.E.I.

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