By Kuhl, Nick on July 27, 2018.
“You’ll notice when you come in, there’s not a bunch of books.”
There are still books at the Lethbridge Public Library’s Main Branch, of course, but the focus for the Main Branch Modernization Project was on open spaces and social activities, says library CEO Terra Plato.
“We’re so excited to just be fully reopen,” Plato said Thursday during a ceremony for the grand reopening of the library’s north wing – the largest renovation project in the history of the Lethbridge Public Library’s Main Branch.
“Obviously we’ve been closed for quite awhile; our upper north wing. We’ve been under construction for over two years, which makes it more difficult for our customers and staff. Along with that (reopening) of course, we’re excited to introduce the new space and kind of a new era for the Lethbridge Public Library. This wing that we opened this morning really focuses on being a social, leisure and technology space.”
Plato says the space was designed to appeal to the needs in Lethbridge and appeal to what the modern library user wants.
The features include: a quiet study and research space in the lower level; relocating the Community Meeting Room to the upper level and expanding its capacity as well as allowing for group bookings to occur outside of regular library hours; an expanded Computer Services area with an increased number of public computers; a new LPL Teen Zone that provides a defined space for young adults to enjoy a place of their own, including dedicated public computers and collections; relocating the listening stations and vinyl collection to the upper north wing; a reading bar where customers can socialize and enjoy the magazine and newspaper collection; and a new cafŽ space powered by the Hot Wire Panini.
Funding came from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, the Lethbridge Public Library and the City of Lethbridge.
During Thursday’s opening, there was storytelling and crafts, Blackfoot drumming and dancing, and a CKXU vinyl collection broadcast. Coun. Mark Campbell and Coun. Jeff Coffman helped with the ribbon cutting, while Mayor Chris Spearman and Coun. Belinda Crowson arrived late due to the concurrent Legacy Regional Park opening.
As part of the redesigned open concept of the upper north wing, the library also debuted its Indigenous space, which received its Blackfoot name, Piitoyiss, or “Eagles Nest” during the reopening celebration. This space acknowledges and honours the history of the peoples and the traditional land the library occupies.
“The opening and naming of the indigenous space, Piitoyiss, meaning Eagles Nest, is an important element in honouring and acknowledging both the traditional land the library sits on, as well as the people who form an important part of our community,” Plato said. “This space is a gathering space to promote reconciliation, understanding and tolerance.”
“The Lethbridge Public Library is a valuable asset for our community, and the renovations just completed will better serve the diverse needs of the library’s patrons,” Spearman said.
“The new space dedicated to honouring the rich history and culture of the Blackfoot people complements and supports our community’s commitment to Reconciliation. I hope everyone in our community will make a point of experiencing everything the library has to offer.”
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