I won’t lie; when I saw the next branch in our library project was Ruth E. Dickinson in Barrhaven, my insides deflated… slightly. What I was most excited about during this project was to discover far-flung branches and small, interesting haunts. Barrhaven was always one of those generic suburban neighbourhoods that I never gave much thought to and seemed unnecessarily inaccessible. In my head, Barrhaven was the place where minivans went to multiply, and streets were named after ferns. What is a Jockvale anyway? Why is your moon only half? Is Barrhaven actually Nepean or vice versa? The plan was to go in and out as quickly as possible and pray I didn’t get swallowed up by strip malls.
Boy, did I eat my words.
Barrhaven is actually one of the fastest growing communities in Ottawa. It is very accessible via OC Transpo, and once you get there, you can find some of the best ethnic cuisine in Ottawa. The Ruth E. Dickinson branch is a reflection that this vibrant slice of the city is also dedicated to literacy and social progress.
Upon arrival, you see that the Barrhaven branch is attached to the Walter Baker complex which includes a hockey rink and a pool. Many hockey/swim moms and dads have returned and taken out books as their children practiced close by. We spent most of our time in the children’s section and my heart swelled when I saw that there were so many French books; they were practically at parity with the English options. The librarians overheard my son and I drooling over the French books and proudly told me that part of their goal was to ensure that the collection represented the diversity of Barrhaven and showed me the “international” section with children’s books in Mandarin, Filipino, Russian, Pashtun, Spanish and Vietnamese. One glance at the community calendar at Ruth E. Dickinson shows that they have events for homeschoolers, seniors, budding authors and everything in between. Who knew Barrhaven was a mini United Nations?
Needless to say I am no longer a Barrhaven skeptic, I am a full-on stan. You can find me and my little family out that way at least once a month for delicious food, a community event and yes, even art exhibits! If you need to pick up the latest literary bestseller or need a quiet spot for your community event, the Ruth E. Dickinson branch will impress you just as it did me.