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NEWS: Wychwood Library aims to attract (May 2019)

May 28th, 2019 · No Comments

Demolition of 1970s element makes way for modern addition

Architects’ rendering of what will be the main floor “Urban Living Room” in the new addition to Wychwood Library on Bathurst Street. COURTESY SHOALTS AND ZABACK ARCHITECTS

By Nabahat Hussain

When the Wychwood Public Library reopens its doors in 2020, the community will find a dramatic shift to the modern in this heritage building. The 1978 addition to the library has been demolished and will be replaced by a 9,000-square-foot space designed by Shoalts and Zaback Architects. Project architect Eric Riddel says the decision to demolish was not taken lightly, but the design intends to make library-goers feel at home while attracting new people to the building.

The library is almost identical to the Beaches and Hyde Park branches created in the same decade. Between 1907 and 1916, the Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie gave Toronto Public Libraries $487,500 to build ten new libraries. The libraries in the Beaches and Hyde Park are also Carnegie libraries and are nearly identical to the Wychwood branch.

The Wychwood Library’s standout piece is the front door on Bathurst Street, which will be reopened, restored, and made fully accessible. 

Architects’ rendering of the 2nd floor lounge and terrace of the new addition. COURTESY SHOALTS AND ZABACK ARCHITECTS

“The 19th century public library was thought of as a refuge, a place away from the hustle and noise of daily life,” says Riddel. “Today libraries are more lively with more activities and community involvement. Wychwood will provide the values of the old and the new; the best of both worlds.”

In terms of environmental sustainability, there will be a green roof on the new addition to help conserve energy. 

“The extra wing was built in the 1970s, but it doesn’t really fit into today’s accessibility standards,” says Sarah Bradley, library services manager. “There wasn’t any way to preserve it and have our goals met, which are to see an accessible, flexible, welcoming, open space.” 

The Toronto Public Library system will see more renovations and expansions in branches across the city in order to meet their tagline: Activate something great. Bradley says the TPL’s goal is to be “More visible, more welcoming, more personal, and more engaging.”

The expansion and renovation will include many new services including a “kids-stop,” which will be a fun and interactive area for kids. There will be books as well as hands-on activities. Senior citizens will be welcomed with a new section devoted to them, which will include a dedicated quiet area for relaxation. 

In the public consultations that took place prior to the library’s new design being finalized, community members expressed their wish for more space and some place to escape to find peace and quiet. Bradley says the new space will aim to meet the needs of the community by providing an exceptional customer experience, innovation, while remaining close to the library’s roots. 

In terms of technology, people will be able print items from their phone through the print and scanning system in 2020. Wychwood Library hopes to make more robotics and coding equipment available to children and teens by adding on to their pop-up learning program that includes a 3-D printer. More e-books and e-audio books will be made available, as well as more online learning opportunities. 

Davenport Library has offered extended hours on Mondays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to accommodate Wychwood Library patrons. Books cannot be dropped off during the library’s closure. In terms of picking up holds, people can go online and change their pickup location to any other Toronto Public Library; Deer Park, Davenport, and Oakwood libraries are nearby alternatives. For bedridden or physically disadvantaged community members, the Home Library Service is available to deliver books. 

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