St. Lawrence Library is maybe one of the most interesting neighbourhood libraries I have encountered yet. The Branch opened in 1982 on the rented premises. It has been in operation here ever since, with a short closure for renovations in 2002.
The Library is not particularly remarkable on street level. In fact, there is no entrance where you would expect, on Front Street. Instead, you have to enter a residential courtyard to get to the main entrance. This was because when the Library was opened there was almost no pedestrian traffic on Front Street. The Children’s Collection and programming space allows for unobstructed views of the street, perfect for a quiet read or people watching.
The history of the surrounding area is just as strange and delightful as this quirky Library. The St. Lawrence community was planned, as previously there was only industrial and transportation infrastructure in the area. This changed in the 1970’s, when City Council decided to redevelop the area into a mixed use neighbourhood. The City envisioned an area of “true diversity”, an area where residents interacted regardless of socio-economic status.
Due to this decision, integration is very even, thus making it difficult to find a defining feature of the Library’s collection. There is a small Local History selection, which is worth a look. I believe that the unremarkable-ness of the collection reflects the reality of the success of this mixed use development.
Up to the point of this writing (January 2016), St. Lawrence remains a neighbourhood library. However, there have been plans since 2010 to redistribute library resources in the area. With the on-again off-again talks of First Parliament Place, St. Lawrence may be closed or relocated in favour of a larger district library in the new site. Although infamous for its sluggish decisions and development rates, if you want to see this fascinating little library, I would recommend you go visit sooner rather than later.
Special thanks to Dulce Gomes for the tour of the library and an incredible explanation of the community!