In 2012, the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) Board made the Main branch its top priority for renewal. Following extensive public engagement beginning in 2013, the OPL Board approved the building of a new 132,000 square foot central library in 2015. City Council approval of a new Central Library as a strategic priority followed a month later.

In 2016, the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada (LAC) began exploring an innovative partnership to create a new space together, and the current vision for a combined facility with over 200,000 square feet of space began to take shape.

Planned to open in late 2024, with an official opening in early 2025, the building of this $192.9 million facility is a key part of Ottawa’s vision to be the most liveable mid-size city in North America. The iconic building will feature shared spaces between OPL and LAC as well as unique spaces for each.

Funding for the joint facility will come from multiple sources, with the City of Ottawa contributing $104.2 million toward the construction of the facility, along with $18.1 million for a 200-space parking garage, and The Government of Canada contributing $70.6 million for conception and construction of the facility.

To provide maximum control over design and construction, along with opportunities for public engagement, the facility is being built using a design-bid-build process with the following phases:

  • Pre-design and schematic design (2019)
  • Design development and drawings (2019-2020)
  • Preparation of construction documents (2020-2021)
  • Tendering for general contracting (construction) services (2021)
  • Construction (2021 to 2024)
  • Opening (late 2024)
  • Official opening (early 2025)

This has been one of the most inclusive and in-depth engagement processes for any public building in Canada. Residents, Indigenous Peoples, and Canadians from coast to coast were invited to participate in the design at every stage. More than 7,000 people have been part of the consultation and engagement process.