Reopening of downtown Kingston library delayed until March
It will be almost a year delayed, but the Kingston Frontenac Public Library’s central branch is set to reopen in March, according to library officials.
The library was closed in November 2016, and renovation work began on the Johnson Street location in early 2017. The library was originally scheduled to open in April 2018, but the reopening date was delayed until the summer of 2018, then delayed again until November.
“It has been a very challenging and complex renovation project,” said Patricia Enright, CEO and chief librarian of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library.
Issues with the building cropped up in 2017 when demolition began and damage to the structure was discovered. The library also had to address the discovery of contaminated soil on the property. Materials, meanwhile, have been stolen from the site, and in August, a torrential downpour flooded the building.
In mid-December 2018, library officials said they were starting to move back into the refurbished building and that they expected the branch to open in mid-January. Although the project was significantly delayed, officials said in December that the project was sticking to its $13.8-million budget, and according to Enbright, that will still be true when the library officially opens on March 23, the new date announced on Jan. 9.
Despite yet another delay, this is the first time the library has offered up a specific opening date.
“We think we’re giving ourselves enough time to achieve that deadline,” Enbright said.
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The chief librarian said there is still work to complete before the library can open its doors, like millwork and the installation of cables and other equipment like computers, servers and furniture.
Nevertheless, the move-in process seems to be in full swing, with most of the central branch’s equipment and books now back in the Johnson Street location. Library officials say that the number of items moved back into the central branch was equivalent to 30 houses worth of equipment and materials — a large move that was done in nine days.
All in all, Enright understands it’s been a long wait but hopes the new, updated library will make the time spent on the build worth it.
Enright said the new central branch’s layout includes a revamped children’s department and a large amount of quiet space that would allow anyone to come visit.
“How people use the building, and that has changed in terms of how people use the library, so we’re not just about the books but we’re also about spaces as well.”
For now, the Wellington Street branch, which was open during the central branch renovations, has closed, as has the St. Remy Place administration office and collection storage warehouse.
A pop-up library has opened at Artillery Park, and there are four other branches in the city to visit.
Until the central branch opens, inter-library loans and reservations from the central branch collections will be temporarily disrupted, and it will take longer than usual to fulfill requests.
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