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NEWS: Wychwood library celebrated (Dec. 2022)

December 13th, 2022 · No Comments

Historic building reopens with new features

Wychwood library’s original building keeps its old charm with modern improvements. HAILEY ALEXANDER/GLEANER NEWS

By Fox Oliver

On Oct. 3, community members gathered for a ceremony to celebrate the official reopening of the Wychwood Public Library following four years of renovation. 

Ojibwe Elder Whabagoon offered songs, spoke of the importance of honouring your surroundings, and expressed her gratitude to those who made the renovation possible. 

Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 12) commended Wychwood Library for being an important community hub for over 100 years and stressed the importance of libraries within the community, saying that “we (local politicians and community members) don’t only want to support libraries. We have to.”

The renovations, led by Shoalts and Zaback Architects, involved the preservation of the original library and the construction of a new addition which increased the size of the library from 6,381 square feet to 17,000 square feet. 

The original library, built in 1916 with funds from the Carnegie Corporation, was designated a heritage property in 1976.

Wychwood Library in 1916.

Architect Gerry Shoalts believes the renovated library succeeds in delivering both a historic building and a contemporary one. Within the building, a modern skylight brightens the exposed walls of the original library. The refurbished great hall still gives an air of history while being outfitted with modern technology.

This isn’t the first time the Wychwood Branch has undergone renovations. 

In 1978, Toronto architect Phillip H. Carter designed an addition which Shoalts and Zaback decided to  demolish to make way for the new renovation. In 2019, project architect Eric Riddel said the decision to demolish was not taken lightly, but that the newly constructed space intends to draw in new library-goers and make them feel at home.

Prior to the completion of the renovations, library services manager Sarah Bradley said that Toronto Public Library’s (TPL’s) goals were “to see an accessible, flexible, welcoming, open space.” Improving “barrier-free access,” and creating unique areas for children, teens, adults, and the elderly were also some of the features that TPL prioritized. In community consultations before the renovations, community members expressed their wish for more spaces where they could escape to find peace and quiet.

The interactive KidsStop Early Literacy Centre, seniors’ area, quiet study rooms, accessible computers, and universal washrooms included in the renovated library all contribute to the library’s usability. They also demonstrate TPL’s ability to follow through with the community’s needs and their own goals. The library boasts a collection size of 34,500 books, as well as CDs, DVDs, computers, and printers.

An outdoor balcony, green roof, lounge seating, two fireplaces (which remain unlit for the safety of the books), and live edge tables made from Norway maple trees that were once beside the library are also new additions to the building. A glass exterior faces Bathurst Street and Melgund Road letting natural light into the “urban living room.”

The lawn on the east side of the library will reopen in the summer of 2023 as a lawn bowling green that will be used by the Wells Hill Lawn Bowling Club.


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