New Main Library: a post-press conference update

Your favourite LANCR VP (VP for the next 12 hours, that is!) attended the press conference at City Hall this morning, at which it was formally announced that the planned site for the new Central Library will be at the west end of downtown. The Library Board is asking the city for $26 million to purchase a site bordered by Bay, Albert, Lyon and Slater streets (which, as Special Info & Musings for Ottawa Information Professionals alerted us, is also the block on which Archibald Lampman lived – here’s hoping the new library will be “a garden for the wandering of our feet,” as Lampman wrote in his poem, “Knowledge”).

We are indeed one step closer!

A few city councillors, including Library Board Chair (and CLTA President) Jan Harder, and City Librarian Barbara Clubb, made brief speeches. Diane Deans affirmed that she believes the new central library “is very important for the future of our city for many generations to come,” and spoke about her experiences of the opening of the Greenboro District Library, three years ago. When she was involved with the construction and planning of Greenboro, which has now topped 1 million visitors (and is, incidentally, celebrating its 3rd birthday tomorrow!), some naysayers told her that they didn’t think a library was important in the 21st century. Many contacted her after the branch opened, admitted they were wrong, and that they didn’t realise the importance of a library.

City Librarian Barbara Clubb reminded the audience that in the past decade, OPL has renovated half of its branches (a poster in Jean Piggott Place had a complete list of past, current and future renovation projects, including the ones mentioned in the recent federal infrastructure funding announcement). She spoke about our current Main Library, woefully inadequate and built for a small city population of around 250, 000 people. She inspired us to think of ourselves as part of a global movement, building on successes of public library construction projects in Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Copenhagen (interesting background here), Seattle, Berlin and Phoenix (I missed a few others she mentioned. This blogger never learned shorthand).
After the press conference (photo at right), City Council recognized City Librarian Clubb for her recent awards, including The Outstanding Service to Librarianship Award (CLA) and the Allie Beth Martin Award (ALA). OPL Library Board Chair and City Councillor Harder commented, after Acting Mayor Michel Bellemare mentioned that Barb had been City Librarian during amalgamation, that one consistent good thing that rural communities say about amalgamation is that they are appreciative of the excellent library service they are now able to enjoy.

All in all, a banner day for OPL! Now LANCRites are off to prepare for tonight.


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