Bridlewood library branches out

Winnie Chen, 22, has three books in her hands for a school project. She needs a place to sit. But space at the city’s third busiest neighbourhood library, Bridlewood, is hard to find.

“I like to look at the books first before I take them out,” said Chen, a York University student. “But this library is always so crowded, I can’t do that here.”

It’s a problem a proposed renovation is intended to  solve at the library on the second floor in Bridlewood Mall.

The library is undergoing construction as part of the mall’s redevelopment plan and will be moving into a bigger area on the first floor next to Shoppers Drug Mart.

The renovation will increase space by almost 50 per cent.

“We look at the population in the area and look at how many kids there are and then we know how big the children’s area should be and so on,” Bailey said.

A larger study space will make it easier for people to study at the library, Chen said.

“I would like to study in the library because my house is so noisy. But right now there’s no space to do that,” Chen said, pointing to the full tables. “If the library made more study areas, I would stay here and study.”

The renovation will be done in stages.

The first phase, to be completed by January, will relocate the furniture and the circulation items downstairs into the new area, said Anne Bailey, Director of Branch Libraries for the Toronto Public Library.

The other stages are dependent on funding.

Nearby libraries open during Bridlewood’s renovation:

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“In 2012 we anticipate there will be money available to renovate the space and potentially add another 1,200 square feet to expand the library further,” Bailey said. “There might be a third scale in 2017.”

The library houses community programs like Chess in the Library, English Conversation Circle, and the Youth Empowerment Network Community Roadshow. It’s also a well-used library with over 438,000 items checked out last year.

“In terms of the number of people it’s cramped,” Ward 39 councillor Mike Del Grande said.

“There’s always lot’s of people here reading newspapers, and reading with their kids. We should all have a place to come to,” said Chen.

Del Grande goes to the library for another reason.

“I come into the mall with my wife and when she does the shopping I come to the library and look around,” he said.

The Bridlewood Library will close briefly in mid-December to move into its new space.