Oct 28, 2021
Ottawa Public Library’s first website launched in October 1996, during Ontario Library Week. That’s 25 years of being online and helping the citizens of Ottawa access technology! Who could imagine a library without computers today? Technology and the Internet have come a long way, and so have OPL’s digital offerings: now you can eBooks, audiobooks, digital newspapers and magazines, stream music and videos, take classes, research your family history, all online!
At the time, Microsoft’s Libraries Online! project had just expanded to Canada. It provided $1 million in cash grants, staff training, computer hardware, technical support and Microsoft software to selected Canadian libraries, starting with those in Toronto and Ottawa. In addition to launching its first website, OPL established a network of Electronic Resource and Access Centres at the St-Laurent, Rideau, and West branches, in partnership with National Capital FreeNet.
Pictured below, former OPL Board president Elizabeth Buckingham met Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who provided $400,000 to encourage the introduction of computers to the Library and offer Internet access to those who would not otherwise have it. And we continue in this spirit today, with public computers in every branch, as well as personal Chromebook computers, and WiFi hotspots, which the Library provided to community organizations on extended loan during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, Ontario Library Week still happens every year during Canadian Library Month in October. It continues to be a time celebrate all that libraries do, and their commitment to community, inclusion, intellectual freedom, and literacy to the benefit of the people in Ottawa.
There’s so much to do at the Library! Libraries are community hubs and centres for learning, creativity, and discovery, virtual programs on our YouTube, online resources and digital collections, as well as in-person for browsing, studying, borrowing musical instruments and museum passes, creative maker spaces, and much more.
For Library Month 2021, new cardholders can receive an OPL USB flash drive friendship bracelet with 4 GB of storage (while quantities last), when they pick up their physical card at any OPL branch. Signing up for a Library card is free and easy, in person at any library branch or—you guessed it—online!