A new library branch for a new year — that’s what residents of Charleswood can look forward to when the calendar flips over to 2015.
Although little more than a tarp-covered demolition site right now, the library at 4910 Roblin Blvd. will soon be triple the size of the current branch and will boast amenities befitting a 21st century library.
"Libraries are becoming community hubs," said Rick Walker, manager of Library Services for the City of Winnipeg. "They are a safe, welcoming environment and a great civic space. You can just go to be there and enjoy."
Many have made use of the current 4,400 square-foot branch at 5014 Roblin during its almost 50-year history. Last year alone there were over 69,000 visits. But it is a cramped space that is difficult to add collections and technology. The new space will be 14,000 square feet and is on schedule for a December completion.
"Charleswood has always been a busy branch," Walker added. "There are voracious library users in the community. I anticipate that it will only go up once the new branch opens. We’re hopeful that if you provide good amenities, good space and good programs, people will respond."
Rudy Braun, regional property manager for Huntingdon Capital, developer of the library project, said his company is delighted to be involved.
"Since the announcement we have received only positive feedback from both the community residences and neighbourhood businesses. We anticipate that adding the new library will increase traffic to the already busy retail plaza. Our team is reviewing proposals to find the right tenant to fill the one vacancy left at this location. We expect the new tenant to enhance the services presently available in the community," Braun said.
The building will be accessible and will feature a multi-purpose room for both children and adult programming as well as a tutorial room that will be free of charge for community groups looking to hold meetings or events. There will also be more study tables, a fireplace, expanded washrooms, skylights and an expanded children’s space.
The library will also feature the first automated check-in system at a Winnipeg public library. Patrons will be to drop off their materials and the new system will automatically scan and print a receipt confirming the material has been returned. The system then sorts the material into different bins to assist library staff.
There are no immediate plans for the old library. Once the move is finalized, it will be declared surplus property and a final decision on its future will be made by the city.
David Hultin is a community correspondent for Charleswood.