100-year-old Rosemount library branch to get ‘major’ renovation
By Madison Ranta
While the new Central Library project is a top priority, the latest Ottawa Public Library board meeting highlighted a range of other improvement projects planned for the coming months — including major renovations to the historic Rosemount library branch just west of Centretown.
At their March 13 meeting, OPL board members voted to approve the work plan for 2018. The plan includes upgrades to the Rosemount building and improved services at library branches throughout the city — all in addition to the planned new $172-million Central Library, to be jointly built with Library and Archives Canada at the eastern edge of LeBreton Flats.
The Rosemount branch will be closed later this year to make some “major, much-needed renovations,” according to Anna Basile, manager of communications and strategic services for OPL.
Located west of Little Italy, the Rosemount branch is a heritage building and Ottawa’s oldest library. Opened in 1918 and last renovated in 1982, the building will get $2 million in exterior renovations, improved accessibility, increased programming space, a new book return system, and new shelving.
According to an OPL board report released in October 2017, an architect for the renovations is expected to be chosen before April. Public consultation on the renovations will take place from April to September this year, with construction beginning at the end of 2018 and lasting until late 2019 or early 2020.
The board’s plan also highlights work to be done developing the new Central Library building.
The city formally approved construction of the headquarters complex at 557 Wellington St., near the north end of Bronson Avenue, in February 2017. Last month, the funding announced in the federal budget confirmed that Library and Archives will partner with the City of Ottawa on the Central Library project.
The federal government committed to spending $73 million on the new library. The City of Ottawa has allocated $99 million for the project.
Once an architect is hired, OPL will begin a series of public consultations on the new complex. Basile said consultations likely won’t start until 2019.
“We know that public libraries are a key entry point to the digital world for many people. To improve technological literacy in our community, libraries must be equipped with relevant technologies.”
According to an OPL board report released in January 2017, the current Main branch on Metcalfe Street will be sold once the new LeBreton Flats location opens. The Centretown Citizens Community Association and Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney have voiced opposition to removing library services from the downtown core.
The Main branch was last renovated in 2014 to upgrade its furniture and children’s area. Because of the impending closure, upgrades and renovations to the Main branch will be limited, said OPL communications strategist Rachael Duplisea.
Also included in the board’s work plan is a review of hours of operation across all 33 library branches.
“Right now, we’re not consistent,” Basile said. “Some of the smaller branches have less hours, some of our bigger branches have more. So we’re looking at consistency across all of our branches, as well as trying to have more Sunday open hours.”
In the Centretown area, the Main branch is currently open Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., while the smaller Rosemount and Sunnyside branches are closed. The Rosemount and Sunnyside locations don’t open until 1 p.m. Fridays, while Main opens at 10 a.m.
At the same meeting, the OPL board approved a technology framework to help with purchasing and upgrading library hardware and software technology.
Craig Ginther, manager of technology services for OPL, called the framework a “significant milestone” in the library’s approach to digital tools.
“We know that public libraries are a key entry point to the digital world for many people,” Ginther said. “To improve technological literacy in our community, libraries must be equipped with relevant technologies.”
The report requires the technology framework to be reviewed once per board term.