You may not know this, but Greenboro was designed to be the ‘library of the future’, a concept pioneered in Canada by Richmond (B.C.) Public Library. Basically, this meant having a branch that met customer needs by providing an attractive and welcoming space, having an extensive collection of popular material readily available, taking advantage of technology to enhance the customer experience and employing staff focused on providing great customer service.
Ultimately, it was always intended that Greenboro would move beyond the traditional view of a library as a place built for quiet reading and solitary activities. Rather, its purpose was to become a vibrant and relevant part of the community that welcomed large groups, open discussions, technology, play and discovery.
Greenboro was designed to make people feel at home. It has an open concept with large, airy windows, skylights, an atrium in the center that allows natural light to filter to the first floor, and a children’s department that is fully integrated with the rest of the library. It also has many large, comfy chairs scattered throughout the branch, and a living room space on the second floor, complete with fireplace and window seating. For those customers wanting a quiet space there is also a study room and a computer lab on the second floor.
What you may not know is that the building was also constructed with environment sustainability in mind to ensure resources are used efficiently. Much of the building was built with strawboard; an environmentally friendly material that’s made in Canada. It also has plenum floors with embedded electrical work within it, allowing electrical outlets to be easily accessed through the floors. This means maximum flexibility regarding the addition and placement of new computers and technology. Local suppliers were also used as much as possible.
10 Years Later
While Greenboro may no longer be considered the library of the future, there is no doubt that it was a pioneer in many ways. It was one of the first in Ottawa to have a dedicated teen zone, the first to offer roving reference, the first to have retail style merchandising for its collection, and the first (and still the only) to have drive thru returns.
Ten years later, there are also some things that remain perennial favorites. First among them would be the Children’s Department, always jam-packed with kids, books parents and the occasional teen. The tall, first- floor power walls are still perfect for browsing. And, the second floor living room, with comfy chairs and cozy fireplace, is always a popular gathering place.
While there were growing pains along the way, Greenboro has proved that libraries can be vibrant, integral hubs for the community. And, for the record, there are still quiet reading and solitary activities happening.
Stay tuned for more information on Greenboro’s 10th Anniversary Celebration on June 4, 2016.