Multi-million dollar renovations coming to Halifax Library

The Keshen Goodman Public Library is a community hub in Clayton Park, and it will soon have a facelift.

This week, the Halifax Regional Council awarded a $7.1 million tender to Avondale Construction to make big changes to the look and function of the space.

“It’s an investment in this neighborhood,” said Åsa Kachan, Chief Librarian and CEO of Halifax Public Libraries. “It’s an investment in the little ones who come here and the old people who come here and the teenagers who come here and the newcomers… It may be a building, but it’s a building that improves so much people’s lives every day.”

The building’s footprint will only increase by about 10%, but Kachan says the entire space will be redesigned. Along with new carpeting, furniture, paint and lighting, some of the additions will include a new reception area, teen computer lab and play area, study rooms and a new children’s play area.

Work will also include improvements to the building’s energy efficiency and accessibility to the design created by architects at Fathom Studio in Dartmouth.

Åsa Kachan, chief librarian and CEO of Halifax Public Libraries, said the library’s renovations should help it keep up with Clayton Park’s population growth in the future. (Brian Mackay/CBC)

Kachan said the library is struggling to keep up with the neighborhood’s growing demand. Clayton Park’s population has more than doubled since the Keshen Goodman Library was built in 2000, and the population is expected to reach between 69,492 and 83,787 by 2026.

“It was built before the secondary school moved in next door, before the Canada Games Center moved in opposite and really before much of the residential area around this library was built” , Kachan said. “So it was built with the anticipation that the neighborhood would grow. But we really underestimated how fast it would grow and how diverse it would become.”

This artist’s rendering shows the new adult area of ​​the library. (Courtesy of Halifax Public Libraries)

Currently, nearly half a million people use the library each year.

“So that translates to about 1,500 to 2,000 people a day,” Kashan said. “So I would consider the Keshen Goodman Library to be one of our busiest public spaces in Halifax.”

Laura Murphy often comes to the library with her three children.

“We love the library, it’s a fun adventure,” she said. “It’s one of the only places I feel safe and comfortable with three young children under the age of five.”

Naresh Malhotra said the library staff are the best in the institution as they are very friendly, informative and patient. (Brian Mackay/CBC)

Naresh Malhotra also comes often for computer and printing services. He said his son came to Halifax from India in 2019 and visits him often.

Something for everyone

“The best thing is for immigrants, new immigrants,” Malhotra said. “I don’t have the words to praise the way [the staff] introduce them, they tell them and guide them about the facilities available here.”

The library offers many services for newcomers, including English lessons, conversation groups and writing exercises. It also helps connect them with supports in the community.

Leah Pohlman, service manager for Halifax West District Public Libraries, said the changes will also help people use the library’s outdoor space. (Brian Mackay/CBC)

Leah Pohlman, service manager for Halifax West District Public Libraries, said the library’s new design was based on some ideas from people who use it.

She said this renovation is for them.

“I think this is going to have a huge impact on the community,” Pohlman said. “How do we navigate between the different ways people want to use the space and where everyone feels welcome? I think that [renovation] really going to meet some of those challenges.”

Pohlman said construction should begin in late summer or early fall and be completed within two years. This will be done in stages so that the library does not have to close at any time.

“There are going to be a lot of moving parts,” Pohlman said. “But, you know, it’s the community library and we want to make sure they can still use it now and are excited to use it with the upcoming renovation.”

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