There was an intriguing op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen this week regarding the hot-button issue of the location of a new Ottawa Public Library main branch. In a piece by architect Allan Teramura, the argument is made for building a new show-stopping library in Confederation Park (which, oh hey, is right across the street from the Courthouse!). I’m personally a huge fan of the current darling of the library world – the Halifax Public Library central branch, mentioned in the op-ed – and if we can have something of that caliber in our city, it would be truly exciting.
This lead me to thinking about the OPL main branch, and particularly what I had heard of but had never seen for myself – pictures of the previous main branch, which was a Carnegie library. Carnegie libraries were libraries built at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries with money donated from Andrew Carnegie. If you’ve never heard of these, here’s the wiki (and with 125 built in Canada, there’s a decent chance there was a Carnegie library near you at some point! Here’s some more information on Canadian Carnegies specifically.). Ottawa’s Carnegie library was opened in 1906, at the same location as the current main branch, and this is probably my favourite picture of it:
Swoon! This blog post from Unforgotten Ottawa has a great collection of pictures, and a lot more information on this library, including why and when it was eventually replaced with the building we have today.