Sneak peek: Kingston Frontenac Public Library’s Central Branch set to reopen this weekend

Jessica Foley takes readers on a sneak peek tour of the newly renovated Central Branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. All photos by Jessica Foley.

The renovations are finally complete, and doors are ready to open this Saturday at the Central Branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library.

Downtown library patrons have been without a branch since December 2018, when the temporary library space on Wellington St closed its doors. Originally slated to open in spring 2018, the renovations at the Central Branch began in April 2017, and have been ongoing for two years.

This re-opening marks the end of an extensive renovation and revitalization project for the KFPL Central Branch. The library had a full overhaul of the mechanical and electrical systems, and now features improved accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers, and better library services for all Kingstonians.

I had a tour Monday evening. The renovated library space is beautiful. It feels wide open and bright, and invites patrons to explore. When I was there, the set up was not complete, but the central branch has a fresh feeling, and I can’t wait to see it all put together on Saturday!

(My images will contain some unfinished sections, but by Saturday I’m confident the library will be shipshape and ready for the public to come and reacquaint themselves with the Central Branch.)

The library looks much the same from the outside, with some fresh brickwork and new windows. The first obvious change is the relocation of the front door and the new entryway. When you enter the front doors, you are greeted by a new staircase, wide and beautiful, leading to the quiet non-fiction and study areas upstairs.

Turning to the right you’ll find the busy Marketplace – a wide open area which will offer a small shop run by the Friends of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library, a browsing area with new releases and seating areas, themed displays, and media collections. Just beyond the Marketplace is the teen area, complete with a Nintendo Switch and large screen to play it on.

There is also a glass walled programming area near the Marketplace. It’s a large area that can be segmented into two, and will be utilized for various programming and craft/maker workshops. I didn’t get a photo of this space as it’s not quite ready, but the transparent walls allow all patrons of the library to enjoy viewing the programming happening inside.

The new Shop in the Centreal Branch, which will be run by Friends of the Library.

The glass-walled Marketplace.

My girls might be disappointed the children’s area is no longer upstairs. However, I love the new design of the children’s nook, and the openness of the area. Access to the children’s area and fiction collections are to the left of the new staircase. As a mom who takes her daughters to the library a LOT, I love that the fiction area is very close to the children’s area. Where before the children would be upstairs and the books I wanted to browse were immediately below them, now I will just be a few stacks over deciding on my week’s reading.

Fiction section.

All the children will enjoy the large, spacious area available. There are some reading nooks, a large seating area perfect for storytimes, and areas to play.

Children’s Area.

Children’s Area.

Children’s Area.

There will be a lovely sitting area on the second floor at the top of the stairs to simply sit and read, or recharge your personal batteries (or those of your phone or laptop). Now that my girls are a bit older, I may escape up here while they decide on their own reading materials!

Desks and study areas abound in this new library design. There will be computers for use, but also plenty of areas to use your own laptop or tablet, with power and USB plugs at each space. There are even two study rooms upstairs with doors you can close for a more quiet experience.

I have to admit, I had no previous experiences in the meeting rooms at the library. Where before they were simply a door in a wall, now the walls are glass and the feeling is large and airy. The Wilson Room is largely unchanged, with the exception of a glass wall and some fresh acoustic tiles to improve the sound. The piano is still available there.

I am hard pressed to remember the library as it was before. Despite the overlong renovation process, the library is stunning. Completely modernized and ready, it’s a community gathering place, a research hub, and somewhere Kingstonians can learn and grow.

This Saturday, Mar. 23, you can visit the library and see the results of two years of reconstruction. The Central Branch, 130 Johnson St, will open its doors at 11am with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The celebrations will take place until 2pm, but the branch will be open until 5pm.

“The Grand Re-Opening event will focus on animating library spaces and showcasing our services and collections,” said Laura Carter, Director of Branch Experience. “There will be hourly storytimes, a green-screen photo booth, an interactive photo diorama, special edition library cards, musical performances by students of the Kingston Suzuki Music Association, guided tours, a local history drop-in session, face painting and a digital guestbook to sign. Visitors will also be able to browse the Friends of the Library retail space and enjoy light refreshments while enjoying a slideshow of the Central Branch.”

Kingston Transit is free all day, to allow all residents of Kingston the opportunity to celebrate the newly reopened Central Branch. Will I see you there?

 

Jessica is a busy working mom who enjoys writing, editing, and blogging. She loves raising her family here in Kingston and tries hard to get out to all the amazing events around town.  You can find more of her writing on her blog A Modern Mom’s Life, and see what she gets up to with her family on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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