Hundreds turn out to have say on what Ottawa's new public library will look like

The public consultation process is underway on what the future central library will look like.

A workshop gathering was held at the Nepean Sportsplex Saturday morning- following a packed meeting on Thursday night held at the Library and Archives Canada on Wellington Street.

“Libraries played a really big part in my life in terms of my love for reading,” says Melissa Nesbitt who attended Saturday’s meeting. “I think it is a great opportunity to get peoples’ input on what I think is going to have a big impact on our community.”

The public consultation process is expected to be extensive- lasting several months. It includes workshops, lectures, online engagement, as well as collaboration with Indigenous communities.

Andrew Wong attended and says, “Right now I think the most important part is that they are asking. The fact they are consulting with everyone here. As oppose to saying ‘I am an amazing architect I want to do this.’”

The joint project between the Ottawa Public Library and Archives Canada has a estimated price tag of $192-million. It will be built at 555 Albert Street- steps from LRT and the future redevelopment of Lebreton Flats.

Diamond Schmitt Architects are the main architects for the facility. Donald Schmitt says the library should follow the example of other Canadian cities like Halifax ad Calgary where their libraries have become a destination.

Schmitt says “The bar has been set high and we have to hit that bar and do better.” Schmitt says the consultation process is meant to understand the values for the community in a new main library.

He says, “We are throwing out ideas and getting response.” 

Schmitt says he has received a lot of ideas. “Ideas about making the main entire building out of wood, a carbon neutral energy structure, which is a cool idea because this used to be the timber capital of Canada-Ottawa- hull so there is a traditional meaning.”

There will be more consultations in the spring and summer 2019.  

The final design of the new central library is expected to be revealed in late 2019, and is expected to open in 2024.