Thursday, June 16, 2011

Library travels

In the past few days, I've clocked some serious library mileage (outside of the obvious, which would be Main, Greenboro and a side order of Nepean Centrepointe, this week)!

Last Friday, I had my quarterly OPLA Readers' Advisory Committee meeting in Toronto, at the OLA offices. We nailed down some plans for the 6th annual RA in a day workshop in October (hint), reviewed a section of our Core Competencies document, and I also showed the committee the website re-design. OLA's entire website will be re-designed in the near future, but in the meantime, we did a massive re-org of our pages on the site. We have a lot of great resources there, and I would encourage you to check them out.

After the meeting, I crashed OLITA's Digital Odyssey party to see some NELI friends, and plotted my library tours for the weekend. The husband and I managed to squeeze in two: the Gerstein Science Information Centre, and TPL's Cedarbrae Branch.

The Morrison Pavilion of the Gerstein Science Information Centre won an OLA library building award in 2004, and the Gerstein Reading Room won in 2010. The Pavillion is the new section of the library; the older section, including the Gerstein Reading Room, dates to 1892, and was the main library for the University until 1973. I first heard about the Library when the Gerstein Reading Room was on the cover of the Winter 2010 ACCESS magazine. My photos are here; you can even watch a video about the library here (in which you will discover that the Gerstein Reading Room was originally the Men's Reading Room - sigh...)

My imagination was especially captured by ceiling in the Gerstein Reading Room (not the least of which because it was a surprise discovery during the renovations), and the journal stacks, at right. The stacks have the original porcelain light fixtures, and glass floors: the latter were intended as a fire deterrent and to help illuminate poorly-lit areas. Other glass library floors I have trod upon include in the NRC Library (where lecherous male scientists apparently gleefully peered up women's skirts) and the Library of Parliament, both in Ottawa, and the London Library in England. At the Gerstein, the metal stacks stand the full height of the five floors, and are really spectacular, as are swing-out metal stools attached to the ends of some rows (see my link above for that photo and others).

On Sunday, we trekked out to Scarborough for a visit to TPL's recently renovated Cedarbrae Branch; all photos here. The original Cedarbrae Branch dates to 1966 and was first renovated in 1982-1983; the most recent renovation in 2008-2010 resulted in the inclusion of a KidsStop Early Literacy Centre, a Teen Zone, 62 public PCs, 4 quiet study rooms, a quiet reading garden and chess tables, and RFID (and a lot more - those are just the big things!)

You know I am going to talk about the KidsStop. The theme of this one is River Express (and you enter through a river boat, which is not as cool as the enchanted forest at St Clair and Dufferin, but still pretty cool). In addition to all the Burgeon Group goodies (we have many at OPL, too), there is a reading nook (at left) featuring an elephant and a monkey from Jungle Bullies by Stephen Knoll (illustrated by Vincent Nguyen), and the images on the other walls are from Jungle Dreams by Graeme Base.

Back in Ottawa on Monday, I started my week with a road trip to a school in Vars where we have a Bookmobile stop. I was there, with our summer student from U of T (thanks for the wheels, Valerie!), to promote Summer reading club (favourite question of the morning: "Si les portes du BiblioBus sont fermées, est-ce que le BiblioBus est fermée?").

Later the same day, I was at the official opening of the new Greely Branch of OPL (thanks for the ride, Charlene!), at right (all photos here). Greely's previous library was a 946 square foot space in the fire hall; now they have 3000 square feet. Did you know that Greely is the fastest growing rural village in th City of Ottawa, and, in fact, one of the fastest growing in Ontaro? The work done at Greely by LaLande + Doyle is pretty amazing: for the second time in 36 hours, I was captivated by a ceiling (and I learned a new word: glulam = glued-laminated timber). I also really loved how about half the branch was designed on angles, rather than straight lines: the circulation desk juts out a bit, the teen zone is a triangle, and the children's book stacks are on an angle, too. I thought it was a creative way of making a small space seem less static and much more inviting. The bronze sculpture outside the branch is also charming: a lovely donation by Councillor Doug Thompson. Lastly, I was also oddly captivated by the unique fabric air dispersion system (it flutters!) but that could be in part that lack of a proper dinner other than filched cheese and crackers, and a long day, rendered me slightly stoned.

All in all, a productive couple of days, though!


  1. it's fun to follow your adventures through this blog! was the Vars school promotion all in French? I also like the idea of non-linear stacks in a small create the illusion of bigger spaces. bye for now, Kristina.

  2. thanks!

    mais oui, l'ecole st guillaume etait francophone! (it was fun!)