May 19th, 2024

Crossings Branch celebrates with grand re-opening

By Lethbridge Herald on April 9, 2024.

Herald photo by delon shurtz Robin Latchmea and sisters Mia and Kylie Hust take part in the official ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the expansion and grand re-opening of the Crossings Branch library on the west side.

Delon Shurtz
Lethbridge Herald

The planners of the Crossings Branch Library expansion on the west side thought of everything.

Of course the 2,600-square-foot expansion and enhancement project includes everything one would expect or hope it to have; an expanded children’s area, a new teen area, staff working space, additional public washrooms, new furniture and lots of lots of books. Management and staff are also working with Indigenous students from neighbouring high schools to design an Indigenous gathering space.

“They will incorporate traditional knowledge and cultural elements chosen by the students to ensure that the branch is a welcoming space for all members of our community, and to acknowledge the traditional occupants of our land,” library board chairman Craig Brown said Monday, during the branch library’s grand re-opening.

Surprisingly, however, there is also a trap door in the new addition.

Well, not exactly a trap door, but a door, nonetheless, in the floor that opens up to reveal a space for, wait for it, a time capsule.

A teen advisory group (TAG) came up with the idea while they were suggesting other amenities for the expansion, such as plants, comfortable chairs, collaborative and individual study spaces, an area to play board games and video games, a long wall covered with books and, of course, somewhere to cozy up with a book.

“When we were consulting with the TAG group, they thought up the idea of creating a time capsule,” said branch services manager Sarah Head. “This is a way to remember the past few years of student and teen life, which were remarkably different due to the pandemic.”

Several items have been placed inside the converted ammo box, including a newspaper, which mentions the eclipse that occurred Monday; a COVID rapid test; a note created by a child that says, “Dear future readers, I hope the library love goes on forever and ever;” a tiny toy dinosaur wearing a knitted cap; and an UNO game.

“UNO is incredibly popular here with the teens who visit the library on their lunch break,” Head said.

The time capsule is scheduled to be opened in 2040, 30 years after the Crossings Library was opened.

“Public libraries are an essential part of civic infrastructure,” Brown said. “They provide cultural, educational and economic benefits to the community. To do this, our library must grow with the community to ensure the library’s diverse populations are appropriately and visibly served. The library’s continued growth is essential to a healthy and vital community. People want to live, work and visit a community that has many of these opportunities, and the library is here to provide that.”

Brown also highlighted two major financial contributors to the expansion; the city’s Capital Improvement Program, and the Society of Friends of the Lethbridge Public Library, which donated $100,000 for furniture and equipment, as well as the Friendship Bridge and children’s space.

Library CEO Terra Plato expressed appreciation for the sizable donation, but pointed out the Friends of the Library provides not only financial support, it is a continuing source of community support through volunteers who provide thousands of hours of thier time providing extras services and special programs.

Several dignitaries attended and took part in the grand re-opening, including representatives for Lethbridge East and Lethbridge West MLAs, Nathan Neudorf and Shannon Phillips, Blackfoot elder Gertrude Spearchief, Friend of the Library VP Donna Hunt, and Lethbridge deputy mayor Jeff Carlson.

Carlson recalled the day 17 years ago when, as rookie councillor, he was part of the ground-breaking ceremony for the Crossings library.

“It was my very first term on council where Coun. Parker and I hopped on a bus (and) drove out to the far desolate reaches of the west side. It was a giant, empty field with nothing to see for miles around and we put shovels in the ground right about there,” Carlson said, pointing an area of the floor.

“We’re very proud of this. We know this is going to be a vibrant, amazing building for decades to come.”

Head is also confident the library will be around for a long time, and said following the re-opening ceremonies that libraries will remain viable as “reputable” sources of information, and people will continue using them despite society’s need for immediate gratification through Google and social media.

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