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2013 Year in Review: Canadian Public Libraries, Part II

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The Edmonton Public Library (EPL) is in the midst of building four branches. In each case, construction began in 2011 and the facility should open in 2014.

Situated near the Mill Woods Town Centre and Mill Woods Transit Centre, the new Mill Woods Library, Seniors and Multicultural Centre is expected to open next year. It will be 25,000 square feet, making it almost twice the size of the existent 25,000-square-foot Mill Woods Branch.

The current Mills Woods Library is the only branch library is southeastern Edmonton and is the second-most-visited EPL facility with 633,000 visitors in 2010 (a 5.6% increase over 2009). In this period, the number of items visitors borrowed from the Mill Woods Branch increased 19% to more than 1,200,000 items in 2010, giving it third place among all EPL branches.

The EPL is collaborating with the City of Edmonton to build The Meadows Community Recreation Centre and The Meadows Library, located along 23rd Avenue and 17th Street in southeast Edmonton. In addition to the 15,000-square-foot library, this multi-purpose facility includes indoor skating arenas, swimming pools, fitness center and gymnasium, as well as outdoor sports and recreation fields.[1] Construction on the entire facility began September of 2011 and is expected to open in 2014.

The library will be approximately 15,000 square feet and features an outdoor culture bowl and reading garden. Other library highlights include public computer stations, free wi-fi, and photocopiers; a community program room; a quiet study room; children's, teens and adults reading areas; a freshwater aquarium and fireplace; and express checkout stations.

The EPL is also collaborating with the City of Edmonton to build the Clareview Community Recreation Centre and The Clareview Library, a multi-purpose facility that integrates a branch library with an aquatic center and a fitness center along with outdoor sports fields and park spaces. The Clareview Library will be approximately 18,000 square feet and has the same features as The Meadows Library.

A new Highlands Branch was expected to open in the autumn of 2013, but has yet to do so, and in the meantime a temporary facility continues to operate one block to the east at 6516 118th Avenue. The Highlands Branch serves the northeastern neighborhoods of Highlands, Montrose, and Bellevue.

The first iteration of the Highlands Branch opened in a storefront space in 1962. The second iteration opened in 1963.

This was a cottage at 8606 118th Avenue known as the “Little House Library.” The third iteration opened at 6710 118th Avenue in 1964.

This third iteration closed on closed on Monday, November 21, 2011. The temporary facility has been opened for over two years at this point, so it deserves to be counted as the fourth iteration.

The fifth iteration is being built on the site of the third iteration and will be 25% larger than the third. The total cost of the project was supposed to be $9,500,000, but if there has been a delay, I imagine it will be at least somewhat higher.

Farther west, the City of Vancouver has approved a plan that will call for the Vancouver Public Library to cooperate with the YWCA to build a branch library in a multiuse facility. Mathew Robinson reported in the Vancouver Sun on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, the Vancouver City Council had approved a project in which the YWCA will build a six-story multi-use facility on the 700 block of East Hastings Street in the Strathcona neighborhood that will accommodate “21 social housing units, a YWCA social service centre and a two-storey Vancouver Public Library branch, according to a news release issued by Mayor Gregor Robertson’s office.”

The branch library will offer visitors books, public computers with Internet access, community space, and programs for immigrants. The YWCA will operate the “housing units,” which are intended for poor single mothers and their dependent children. Robinson quoted the press release as saying, "With the support and involvement of both the Vancouver Public Library and the YWCA, this project will be a focal point for a stronger community in Strathcona and builds on the City's commitment to deliver housing and crucial social services to Vancouver families in need.”

Yvonne Zacharias reported in the Vancouver Sun on Sunday, October 6, 2013 that the Vancouver Park Board was considering placing what Ms. Zacharias called “little libraries” and “pop-up libraries” (really book exchanges) in public parks, field houses, and community centers after private citizens had installed a few such book exchanges in parks. Vancouver Park Board Chairman Sarah Blyth was prepared to propose a motion to cooperate with the school and library boards on this project.

[1] In Canada, English words are spelled the English way, so it will be a “fitness centre.”

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