Encompassing over 216,000 square feet, the new building will feature shared spaces, such as the Central gathering space, café and large multi-purpose meeting areas, along with spaces devoted to specific uses of the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and Library and Archives Canada (LAC). Read more about the spaces below.
Central Gathering Space
The moment you arrive at the facility through one of the three entraces, you step into the Central Gathering Space. It provides beautiful light and visibility into many of the spaces throughout the building. There are 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, allow for lots of natural light to pour into the building. The open-air atmosphere showcases the building’s net zero carbon designs.
The Central Gathering Space provides access to the two partner organizations: OPL’s Library Entrance and Express and LAC Entrance and Orientation. It is intended to act as a large community living room, a casual space for people to chat with friends, lounge and read. Reading spaces on the ground floor move to become areas for book fairs, evening gatherings, or special events.
ENTRANCE TO LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA AND ORIENTATION SPACE
The LAC Entrance/Orientation component is the first point of contact with Library and Archives Canada for its clients and the public. Welcoming staff helps visitors to determine where they want to go. Digital tools allow self-service exploration of the range of services and resources of the federal institution. Some of the wonderful artifacts from the LAC collection is on display in the Treasures Gallery, which is clad in reclaimed ash.
The multipurpose room is located on the north-west side of the building. Its tall, west-facing windows offer a view to the outdoor gathering circle and amphitheatre. This room will hold around 270 people and is intended to have retractable seating, so it can be set up like an auditorium and host speakers, authors, performers, etc. When the seating is retracted, it would leave a large multipurpose space that could host events, weddings, workshops, and more.
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, the Children’s Wigwam Room for Storytime, and a collection of over 20,000 items.
INDIGENOUS WIGWAM-INSPIRED CIRCULAR ROOM
The Indigenous Space, developed in collaboration with the Elders and members of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinābeg and the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, will showcase Indigenous culture, languages and knowledge as well as a spot for Indigenous gathering.
OPL Fifth Floor Reading Area
On the fifth floor, the views of Ottawa, the Ottawa River and the Gatineau hills are breathtaking. Here you find the Adult Fiction Collection, the Demonstration Kitchen, and another Arrival & Orientation Space. The OPL reading areas are beautiful, light-filled spaces with large collections to browse, while sitting comfortably and taking in the fantastic views.
LAC Reading Room
The impressive two-story reading room gives access to Canada’s extensive documentary heritage collection (22 million 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 to inspire visitors and researchers, encourage curiosity, generate new knowledge and instill pride in our shared history.
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 genealogy search!
OPL Civic Reception Room
Meetings, gatherings, receptions and events of all kinds can take place in the OPL Civic Reception Room, with its beautiful views.
A ground floor café greets you at the north west entry, overlooking the remarkable views to the north.
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.
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.
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.
Living Ottawa is an area of the central 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 complement to one another.
LAC Preservation 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 and library for present and future generations of Canadians.
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 3,000 volumes printed between the 15th and 20th centuries.
Learn more about design features and the exterior of the building in the design section.