Encompassing over 216,000 square feet, the new building will feature shared spaces, such as the Town Hall, café and large multi-purpose meeting areas, along with spaces devoted to specific uses of the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada. Read more about the spaces below.
Exterior and surroundings
The architects have created a design that connects to our nation’s rich history and natural beauty: its shape is reminiscent of the Ottawa River; its stone and wood exterior reflects the escarpment and the surrounding greenspace.
This large public atrium will have three grand entrances from the exterior and feature views up to the multi-storey spaces above. The Town Hall will provide access to the two partner organizations; OPL’s Library Entrance and Express and LAC Entrance and Orientation. There will be clear views throughout the different sides of the atrium to the exterior landscaping of the building which, along with the many skylights in the ceiling will allow for lots of natural light to pour into the building. The Town Hall is intended to act as a large community living room, it will be a casual space for people to chat with friends, lounge and read. Alternatively, it may also function as a large programming space and will on occasion accommodate events such as banquets and receptions.
Entrance to Library and Archives Canada and Orientation Space
Located off the great hall, the LAC Entrance/Orientation component is the first point of contact with Library and Archives Canada for its clients and the public. Welcoming staff and digital tools designed to promote self-service exploration of the range of LAC’s services and resources will guide you through the services and resources of the federal institution. A “treasures room,” showcasing the wide variety of the national collection with some of its most extraordinary items, will be a highlight for any visitor.
The multipurpose room is located on the north-west side of the building with beautiful views out onto the landscaped greenspace outside. This room will hold around 320 people and is intended have retractable seating, so it can be set up like an auditorium and host speakers, authors, performers, etc. The seating can also be retracted and would leave a large flat-floor multipurpose space that could host events, weddings, workshops, and more.
A ground floor café greets you at the north west entry, overlooking the remarkable views to the north.
LAC Presentation Laboratory
A glass-fronted preservation lab at the east entrance will showcase the conservation process that helps restore and preserve the rich collection of our national archives for present and future generations of Canadians.
OPL Children’s Discovery Area
The Children’s Discovery Centre is an exceptional, vibrant and playful environment that stimulates the social experience and imagination of children through creative and constructive play activities at the same time as encouraging reading and listening skills. This large area includes play areas, discovery areas, a creation centre, an early literacy centre, research computer stations, group and individual seating, a multipurpose room for education programs, and a collection of over 20,000 items.
Living Ottawa is an area of the library that houses a collection focusing on published materials that deal with all aspects of past, present, and future life in Ottawa. It is an area that focuses on preservation of historical materials, as well as the recognition and celebration of what is happening today as the history of tomorrow. This space is adjacent to the shared genealogy space with Library and Archives Canada and should provide a lovely compliment to one another.
A museum-quality exhibition gallery will showcase the heritage and culture of Canada and its capital. The Exhibition Gallery will feature rare items from Library and Archives Canada, artwork and artefacts from the Ottawa Public Library, the Ottawa community, and Ottawa City Archives.
LAC Main Reading Room
The impressive two-story reading room gives access to Canada’s extensive documentary heritage collection (22 millions of books, plus maps, films, photographs, newspapers, stamps…) while also providing a contemplative atmosphere with views to the river and Gatineau hills beyond. It aims at inspiring visitors and researchers, encouraging curiosity, generating new knowledge and instilling pride in our shared history.
LAC Reference Room
If you are looking for documentation on military history, sports archives or Indigenous matters, the Reference Room is a key part of the Library and Archives Canada spaces. It offers access to online and onsite research tools, as well as a team of experts to guide beginners as well as more experienced users.
LAC Lowy Collection Room
The Jacob M. Lowy Collection is Canada’s national treasure of old and rare Hebraica and Judaica. Its intellectual scope spans religious, scientific, historical and philological thought emanating from presses in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. It now comprises approximately 3000 volumes printed between the 15th and 20th centuries.
LAC and OPL have brought together their extensive genealogical collections to create a world-class research Centre at the heart of the facility. A must stop for all people interested in genealogical search!
OPL CREATIVE CENTRE
The state-of-the-art Creative Centre provides access to innovative digital and analogue tools that enable creation and inspire learning at any age or stage of life.
The Indigenous Space, developed in collaboration with local host Algonquin communities will showcase indigenous culture, languages and knowledge as well as a spot for indigenous gathering.