new toronto library

The top 5 new libraries in Toronto

The Toronto Public Library has been steadily expanding over the last decade. Since 1998, when the TPL was formed by merging the public libraries of the various pre-amalgamation cities, three new branches have opened: Burrows Hall, St. James Town, and Fort York, and several others have undergone impressive renovations, including Mount Dennis and Bloor/Gladstone.

This month, Toronto Public Library branch number 100, at Scarborough Civic Centre, will be ready for use. Despite budget cuts and attacks by Doug Ford, one of the world's biggest book lending systems has continued to grow, handling roughly 18 million visits and 32 million checkouts a year.

Here's a look at some of the TPL's best recent work.

Mount Dennis
Located near Eglinton and Weston, the Mount Dennis library was given an extensive, $4.07 million makeover in 2011. Out went the timber frame and brick facade completed in 1985 and in came a modern structure designed to capture natural light. In 2013, the makeover won the Toronto Urban Design Award, Award of Excellence for Public Buildings in Context

The original library building at Bloor and Gladstone cost $60,000 when it was commissioned in 1911. The grand brick structure with large arched windows featured a reading garden when it was completed in 1913 as the first library fully funded by the City of Toronto. In 2009, a $9.1 million renovation and expansion project added a new wing, nearly doubling the size of the facility. The upgrades earned numerous awards, including a 2010 international prize presented by the Chicago Athenaeum.

St. James Town
Bright and airy, the $3.2 million St. James Town facility opened in October 2004, replacing a weekly visit from the TPL's mobile book mobile for the neighbourhood of some 25,000 people near Sherbourne and Wellesley. The branch is connected to a gym within the Wellesley Community Centre and big westward windows allow passers by to peek in on the classes happening inside. Reflecting the cultural diversity of the surrounding area, books and magazines are available in a wide variety of languages.

Fort York
The Toronto Public Library's 99th branch opened in May 2014. Designed by KPMB Architects, the 1,486 square metre space was strategically placed to service the growing neighbourhood near Bathurst and Lake Shore Blvd. The initial offerings included 35,000 books, a computer lab, and a digital innovation hub with 3D printer--the first one in the TPL system outside the reference library at Yonge and Bloor.

Scarborough Civic Centre
Toronto's latest library branch will be impressive. Inside the wood-framed structure designed by LGA Architectural Partners and Phillip H. Carter Architects will be 40,000 books, audiobooks, magazines, and DVDs in a range of languages, including English, Chinese, Gujarati, and Tamil, free wi-fi, 18 public computers, and a digital hub that will include a 3D printer.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

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