A new chapter is underway for Kingston’s downtown public library as the city’s main branch opened last weekend following a two-year, $14-million renovation.
An increase in the amount of natural light and a more open-concept design make the library more inviting, says Larissa Chartrand, who used to frequent the library before it closed for renovations.
“It’s really nice here. Huge — a lot more space than I realized,” she added.
But getting to this point hasn’t been without its challenges. While on budget, the library renovation was plagued with delays that pushed its opening date back several times.
Materials from the construction site were stolen, and a heavy rainfall last August caused damage and flooding in the library’s basement.
Despite opening its doors close to a year later than the originally planned date, Kingston resident Lupe Weimar-Ryde says the wait was worth it.
On her third visit already this week, Weimar-Ryde says her three-year-old daughter Emilia can’t get enough of the magnet wall in the children’s area of the library.
“She loves building stuff so that’s great, the little corner that they have over there, and again, it’s wonderful,” said Weimar-Ryde.
The children’s area features a magnet wall where children can use tubes of different shapes and sizes to construct a ball run along with a number of interactive activities aimed at teaching children the alphabet.
The physical changes at the library also come with a shifting philosophy, explains branch experience director Laura Carter.
“It’s more about people than about books. We still have lots of books but we’re really trying to make it a community space where people can learn and collaborate together,” Carter said.
A lot of that type of programming takes place in a large, glass-walled room called the Create Space, where people can learn a range of skills, from photography to using a 3D printer.