Multimillion dollar renovations coming to Halifax library

·3 min read
This artist's rendering shows how the children's area of the  Keshen Goodman Public Library will look after renovations.  (Courtesy of Halifax Public Libraries - image credit)
This artist's rendering shows how the children's area of the Keshen Goodman Public Library will look after renovations. (Courtesy of Halifax Public Libraries - image credit)

The Keshen Goodman Public Library is a community hub in Clayton Park, and it will soon be getting a facelift.

This week, Halifax Regional Council awarded a $7.1-million dollar tender to Avondale Construction to make some big changes to the look and function of the space.

"It's an investment in this neighborhood," said Åsa Kachan, chief librarian and CEO of Halifax Public Libraries. "It's an investment in the little ones who come here and the seniors who come here and the teens who come here and the newcomers.... It may be a building, but it's a building that improves people's lives so much every day."

The building's footprint will only increase by about 10 per cent, but Kachan says the whole space will be re-imagined. Aside from new carpets, furniture, paint and lighting, some of the additions will include a new reception area, a teen computer lab and gaming area, study rooms and a new children's area.

The work will also include improvements to the building's energy efficiency and accessibility following the design created by architects at Fathom Studio in Dartmouth.

Brian Mackay/CBC
Brian Mackay/CBC

Kachan said the library is having trouble keeping up with the neighborhood's growing demand. Clayton Park's population has more than doubled since the Keshen Goodman Library was built in 2000, and the population is projected to grow to between 69,492 and 83,787 by 2026.

"It was built before the high school came in next door, before the Canada Games Centre moved in across the way and really before much of the residential area around this library was built," Kachan said. "So it was built anticipating that the neighborhood would grow. But really we underestimated how quickly it would grow and how diverse it would become."

Courtesy of Halifax Public Libraries
Courtesy of Halifax Public Libraries

Currently, almost half a million people use the library every year.

"So that translates to about 1,500 to 2,000 people a day," Kashan said. "So I would consider Keshen Goodman Library one of our heaviest-used public spaces in Halifax."

Laura Murphy comes to the library often with her three kids.

"We love the library, it's a fun adventure," she said. "This is one of the only places I feel safe and comfortable coming with three small children under the age of five."

Brian Mackay/CBC
Brian Mackay/CBC

Naresh Malhotra visits often as well for computer and printing services. He said his son came to Halifax from India in 2019 and he visits him often.

Something for everyone

"The best of the things is to the immigrants, new immigrants," Malhotra said. "I don't have the words to praise the way [the staff] introduces them, they tell them and guide them about the facilities available here."

The library provides many services for newcomers, including English language courses, conversation groups and writing practice. It also helps connect them with supports in the community.

Brian Mackay/CBC
Brian Mackay/CBC

Leah Pohlman, service manager for the Western District of Halifax Public Libraries, said the library's new design was based on some ideas from people who use the library.

She said this renovation is for them.

"I think it's going to have such a huge impact on the community," Pohlman said. "How do we navigate the different ways that people want to use the space and where everybody feels welcome? I think that this [renovation] is really going to address some of those challenges."

Pohlman said construction is expected to begin in late summer or early fall, and be finished within two years. It will be done in stages so the library won't have to close at any point.

"There's going to be a lot of moving parts," Pohlman said. "But, you know, this is the community's library and we want to make sure that they can still use it now and that they're excited to use it with the coming renovation."

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