The Windsor Park Library turned the page onto a new chapter in its history when the doors to its new $4.9-million facility were opened to the community Thursday for the first time.
Nestled against the backdrop of a spattering of trees on the 1100 block of Archibald Street, the new 8,000 square foot space featuring floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a tile mosaic mural from a local artist, sits a stone’s throw away from a St. Boniface community pool.
In the eyes of Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface), it’s that connection to other public amenities that makes the new library more than just a place to check out books — to him, it's an integral part of a new civic campus.
"I think this site is really amazing. It is a campus for the mind and a campus for the body, a civic campus. Across the way you have Bonivital Pool where people can exercise their bodies. And here, now, we have Windsor Park Library where people can exercise their minds," Allard said.
"Libraries, for me, are the grand equalizer. They are such an important public service. It doesn’t matter what your income is, what your religion is, what your creed is, everyone is welcome here. Anyone can access this wealth of information. It really does open up the world to you."
At the grand opening Thursday, the community came out see the new space, which over the past two weeks was filled with more than 25,000 items, including books, movies and music. Given that libraries are no longer just a place for books, the facility also features free Wi-Fi, computers for public use, meeting and study spaces, a family literacy playground and more than 80 free programs now open for registration.
Architecturally, the space doesn’t look like other libraries in the city, with the building built in the shape of a large triangle and decked out with glass walls that provide plentiful natural lighting.
Thanks to Winnipeg-based artist Simon Hughes, one of the libraries walls is fixed with a three-metre by six-metre mosaic constructed from more than 60,000 ceramic tiles. At first glance the piece, entitled Tributaries, resembles a large, sprawling maze, but as your eyes settle into it, other hidden images begin to appear.
Prior to the unveiling of the new facility, the Windsor Park Library had been closed since Feb. 25, when its original location, built in 1961 on the 900 block of Cottonwood Road, locked its doors for the last time.
The fact it had been nearly 60 years since the opening of its original location was noted by Mayor Brian Bowman.
"Just to put that in perspective: The Beatles were on the cusp of greatness, the U.S. had severed relations with Cuba, The Great One Wayne Gretzky was born, and, of course, as I’m sure all of you know, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for their sixth Grey Cup win," Bowman said.
"This is a great day for the city and what a spectacular space we’re in right now."
The new Windsor Park Library is the latest installment in the city’s larger public library redevelopment strategy passed by council in July 2012. In addition to Windsor Park, that strategy also led to the opening of the Charleswood Library on Roblin Boulevard in January 2015.
In lieu of a ribbon cutting, the occasion was marked with the ceremonial shelving of books. Bowman and Allard were helped in that task by the young students from École Howden elementary school, who swarmed the two local politicians and, in a frenzy, each pushed the spine of a hardcover until it fell into place on the shelf.