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).
Storey Telling Series
To celebrate the pouring of the floors of Ādisōke, we’re launching a “storey telling” series! This series will showcase some of the exciting features that will be offered on each level of the facility. Be sure to check back regularly to learn more about the other spaces and features that will be found on each floor!
Historical treasures and stories from the community on display!
What do a photo of Pierre Elliot Trudeau with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, a map drawn by Samuel de Champlain, a first-edition Anne of Green Gables, the patent for Armand Bombardier’s snowmobile and Ottawan artifacts all have in common? Ādisōke!
Ādisōkewill unquestionably offer more opportunities to highlight Canadian treasures and community stories in Ottawa’s Centretown. On the first floor of this five-storey facility, new exhibit spaces will be dedicated to Canadian and local history and culture, a must-see for visitors and locals curious to discover what LAC, OPL and other local and national partner collections hold.
LAC will be able to exhibit true hidden gems you never even imagined existed. Perhaps you’ll see the first act restricting the slave trade in the British colonies, the only known depiction of a Beothuk person created from life or the only surviving copy of one of the first silent films made in Canada. And the gallery is full of choices, as the LAC collections include 30 million photographs, 425,000 works of art and three million architectural drawings, plans and maps.
This is also the first time Ottawa Public Library will have its own exhibit space to inspire visitors. OPL plans to use the space to share Ottawa’s culture and stories—all sure to delight the local community. OPL also wants to share stories of the communities that make up the city of Ottawa, raise awareness and, in doing so, forge greater bonds with those communities. This will be an open space, with OPL hoping to develop partnerships with other organizations and institutions.
No two visits to the gallery will be alike, as both OPL and LAC will rotate exhibits through these spaces designed for exploration rather than permanent exhibits. These new free public spaces will bring our culture and stories to life in countless ways—no doubt about it!
A Central Gathering Place Full of Possibilities
Have you ever visited a majestic new building or public space for the first time and thought there was so much to see, you didn’t know where to look? That’s how you might feel when you enter the atrium of Ādisōke, the new Ottawa Public Library – Library and Archives Canada joint facility, as a world of possibilities opens right before your eyes!
Ādisōke, which means ‘storytelling’ in Anishinābemowin Algonquin language, will captivate you from the moment you step inside. Chances are you won’t just be passing through in a hurry to pick up some books. You’ll want to admire the atrium’s grand design, from the brightly coloured furniture to the wooden balustrades and banisters, both inspired by the Anishinābe Algonquin Nation’s passion for warmth. You’ll also want to take some time to admire the public art, watch the comings and goings of visitors, or perhaps just sip on a leisurely coffee.
As soon as you step through one of the three entrances to this facility, the view is breathtaking. You’ll look up and admire not only the abundance of natural light, but also people passing through or reading a book, kids playing in the children’s area, and a green wall that stretches from the first floor to the fifth floor. And for a completely different perspective on these attractions, all you have to do is climb a few flights of stairs and your view will be transformed.
Whether you’re seated in one of the atrium’s comfortable armchairs, or wandering around this large space, you’ll want to take some time to observe everything the facility has to offer. You might ask yourself: “Do I want to immerse myself in history by visiting Library and Archives Canada, or should I head for Ottawa Public Library to see what they have to offer? Or maybe I just want to take a stroll to enjoy the atmosphere.”
Despite its vastness, the atrium will present a world of contrasts. With some 5,000 visitors expected every day, this lively stage will act as both a gathering place and an oasis of intimacy for a moment spent alone or with friends.
The possibilities are endless in a place that alternates between tranquility and liveliness. It can offer the kind of environment that appeals to the solitary reader, but it can also come alive, through a public market, a book fair, a jazz show or simply a visit from a group of students or tourists passing through the area.
This atrium will most certainly become a place where people with different life experiences cross paths long enough to choose their own adventure within Ādisōke!
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.