Since March of 2021 I have been working at the South Common Library while my home location, the Mississauga Central Library, has been undergoing a thorough revitalization. That library, which opened in 1991, was in dire need of a facelift. It lacked electrical outlets, meeting spaces, program rooms, water stations, among other deficiencies. While other Mississauga libraries were closed for their own renovations, I wondered when Central would get its turn. While on my travels I toured the new Halifax and Helsinki central libraries in awe. If only the Mississauga Central Library could be brought into the twenty-first century too.
Two days ago I was able to see the inside of the Central Library for the first time in two and a half years. Employees of the library system were given the opportunity to go on a tour, and my manager at Central, Kate Marczynski, conducted it. A small group of library employees gathered inside the underground parking area and Kate took us to the fourth floor where we started our top-to-bottom visit.
Fibre-optic cascading light fixture (one of two) called Lightfall by artist Nathan Whitford. This one curves down the southern atrium towards the main entrance.
Netting above Lightfall, which is adorned with round felt pieces to absorb sound. Let’s see if it–and its northern counterpart–actually work. Both atria were notorious in their capacity to transmit and project noise. As a disciple of the tenet that children should be neither seen nor heard, these atria acted like funnel clouds, dispersing children’s voices up to the roof and throughout the building.
A new feature to the building structure is the creation of the Sky Lounge, which is this rectangular extension that overlooks Celebration Square
The other side of the Sky Lounge, with red carpet
Sky Lounge looking east onto Celebration Square
The new test kitchen. It was in a large room and I wonder what the empty expanse (out of picture range) will be used for.
The fourth floor, which used to be occupied by the Business Department, was converted into a quiet study space when Business moved to the second floor. The fourth floor will remain a place for quiet study. The desk space along the length of windows has outlets for laptops but they are not accessible from the wall side, thus users will have to stretch their cords around the edge of the table and get on their knees to plug in. Construction is still ongoing so I hope some modifications will be made.
Fourth floor. The floors have low white shelving, identical to the adult shelving in Halifax and at Oodi.
Moments before this picture was taken I stood by this window–there was no glass in it. When I am at the Y I often see a crane hoisting a worker to the third floor. This is what is going on.
Our new staff room has been named after Ted Sharp, who held many positions within the library system, but I remember him fondly as a librarian at the old Central Library (at 110 Dundas St W) and as the first manager of Central Arts and History.
Inside the Ted Sharp Staff Lounge. I immediately noticed the small size of the tables, as there isn’t enough room on them for four people and their meals, drinks and books. I have since learned that the furniture here is temporary, perhaps only for the limited staff who are working there now. There were only two microwaves (before the Central Library closed, the staff room had three) so I imagine more will be installed as I saw that there was room for four.
In this shot one can see both of the light fixtures. We are at the north atrium and to the left of Kate (in the green jacket) the south atrium is visible.
The second floor now has these enclosed pods to permit somewhat private gatherings. They are in various sizes (these ones are the largest) and the metallic meshwork is see-through.
Colleague Jacqui Gordon, who retires from the library system the day after our tour, is inside one of these pods.
The view on the second floor from where my desk used to be, looking to the south atrium. The staircase to the left of the elevator used to be quite wide, and narrowed as it swept upward.
South atrium entrance. The library system logo tile mosaic has been removed.
Inside the Circulation area where the two drop boxes empty onto the conveyor belt for sorting
Children’s area still under construction. The ceiling here has been lowered.
The snaky shelving in Children’s
The stairs and seating area leading down to the Makerspace area, formerly the Children’s Department. The seating area has convenient outlets underneath the giant steps.
The trompe-l’oeil effect of the lower balcony
Looking up from the lower level to the top of the north atrium