Construction has begun on the Cedarbrae library branch that closed over a month ago.
The library officially shut its doors to visitors on Oct. 6 and is in the preliminary stages of a total overhaul and redesign.
“Part of the work involves some interior demolition and that has proceeded,” says Anne Bailey, Director of Branch Libraries for Toronto Public Library. “The building has been emptied.”
People passing by the library, located at Markham Road and Lawrence Avenue, will notice signs of construction – workers are on the scene, the building has been fenced in and piles of rubbish from the demolition lay outside.
Bailey says the renovations were prompted by a need for renewal and repairs.
“There’s need for roof work, electrical work, the heating and vent systems need replacing, and the elevator kept malfunctioning,” she says.
She adds that the library, first opened in 1966, is not fully accessible at the moment, but will be once all the renovations are complete.
The work is estimated to keep Cedarbrae closed for 18 months, but Bailey says it depends on how construction goes.
Because of the closure, most of Cedarbrae’s possessions have been put in storage, while some have been transferred to other branches. The Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection has been moved to the Malvern branch.
Meanwhile, Cedarbrae visitors are being asked to use other branches.
Bailey says the nearby Bendale branch has extended its hours for the entire renovation period, and the library’s Bookmobile will be visiting the Cedarbrae parking lot every Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
She says the community did have opportunities to share their ideas for the library. The public was also able to meet with the architects and see the proposed redesign before the branch was closed.
“We received many favourable comments,” she says.
“A lot of what you get at these meeting is that people don’t want their branch to close,” she adds. “But people understand with the amount of work that needs to be undertaken, in terms of health and safety issues, it’s better to close.”
Magdalena Vanderkooy is the area manager for many of the branches in Scarborough, including Cedarbrae. She says with the response they’ve received from the public, it is clear libraries are a vital service.
“[The public] really misses it,” she says. “But they’ve been very positive about the plans themselves. They’re very excited.”
The renovations will include adding a new entrance, new quiet study rooms, a teen zone, and restoring meeting spaces. They also plan to add an early literacy centre, more computers, wireless internet, and express checkout services.
Vanderkooy says the library will be more environmentally friendly, and people will be well served with a functional and modern library upon its completion.
“It will be a much more inviting place for people to come and spend time,” she says.