Corp Comm Connects

Richmond Hill’s Oak Ridges Moraine Library closes Sept. 9, transitions to new building

The new Oak Ridges Library is expected to open to public late-fall 2019 after massive delays
August 26, 2019
Sheila Wang

Just as everything has an end, every end offers a new beginning.

This couldn’t be truer for the Oak Ridges Moraine Library, set to close its doors for good on Sept. 9 after serving the community in the north end of Richmond Hill for nearly three decades.

A much bigger, brighter and better branch is going to take over its services and collection to continue to provide the “knowledge centre” that the library always strives to do.

The new Oak Ridges Library -- 19,000-square-foot -- is expected to open to public in late fall after massive delays due to contractual issues.

Library-goers in Oak Ridges will soon be able to visit the much-awaited new facility on the corner of Yonge Street and Regatta Avenue, just 500 metres north of the current brick and concrete storefront facility tucked in a strip mall.

“It’s sort of neat little mirroring of the prior move where there was a need for a bigger library due to the community growth but it’s still being kept in that exact same neighbourhood of very short distance,” said library board spokesperson Brock Smith.

The current facility opened in 1990 at the time when the quiet suburb experienced a population upsurge for the first time.

In the early 90s, Statistics Canada named Richmond Hill as Canada's fastest-growing community.

The 6,000-square-foot library replaced its smaller predecessor Charles Connor library which was about 500 metres south of it.

The library was named by local boy Bren Huhtala who won a naming contest held for the new branch, according to Later Days in Richmond Hill.

“It’s kind of bittersweet because it’d gonna be letting go some memories and at the same time I’m looking forward to new opportunities in the new building,” said Melony Teague, a writer and author in Oak Ridges.

Teague, a mother of two teenagers, said she and her family have been frequent library users for the past 15 years. She relied on the resources for research and her children enjoyed the programs offered at the facility.

Having used the library mostly in a traditional way, Teague said she was excited to tap into what the new library would have to offer.

“In 1990 when the branch was opened, libraries were very much book-oriented , If you look at where libraries are today, they are less about being book depository but more being a community hub,” Smith said.

The expectations for modern-day libraries have changed significantly in the past decades, he said, noting many library-goers look to share skills and work together in the maker spaces, meeting friends over coffee, or just surfing online.

Now that the current Oak Ridges library cannot fill the bill, the two-storey new library is expected to pick up the baton and take it to another level.

The $11,863,000 new project will offer a wide range of services including meeting rooms, programs rooms as well as expanded library collection of books and magazines for all ages.

It is also expected to include a unique maker space that is going to have workshops, planned programming and free play on top of the audio/visual equipment, iMac Creation Station computer, a DIY Artisan Zone with vinyl cutter, laser cutter and engraver and a 3D printer.

But there are some big shoes left to fill as well, Brock said.

“I think Oak Ridges is really unique in that it’s retained a lot of its individuality as a neighbourhood in north end of Richmond Hill,” he said.

Brock said frequent library-goers in the close-knit community would want to retain the “small community feel” in this modernized library where the visitors and the staff can still foster that kind of relationship which they used to have in the current one.

“I think often we underestimate the value of having a library so close to us, I encourage people to use the facility and resources that we do have because some communities don’t have that. I think it’s valuable contribution to the community,” Teague said.

Since Richmond Hill no longer leases the building that houses the old library, it will be up to the owner to decide what the future holds for it after the transition, according to the city.