Vaughan’s Civic Centre Resource Library – Building New Stories

Vaughan’s Civic Centre Resource Library takes reading to a whole new level in an innovative space bursting with technology.

I’m sitting on a lime green chair, reading a book. The glass of iced tea I purchased at an in-house café sits opposite me, and as I glance outside, to a patio-style courtyard, I can see a teenager clad in shorts and sunglasses doing the same. “I fit right in here,” I think to myself. 

The “here” I’m describing is Vaughan’s new Civic Centre Resource Library, which boasts surprising modern twists unlike other reading rooms that came before it. Located in Maple, Ont., and equipped with an array of new technologies, this library is a place where kids, teens and adults alike can coexist in a space they can make their own.
Margie Singleton, CEO of Vaughan Public Libraries, says that this was always the goal they had in mind. Since 2009, when the library was proposed, and in 2012 when Vaughan Public Libraries began public consultations, the building was designed to be a place the community had a say in.

“We didn’t say, ‘How should we design your library?’ We said, ‘How are you going to use your library?’ Because the most important thing is for the form to follow the function. We need to know how people are going to use the library and then we’ll design a library that meets their needs,” she says, as we sit in her bright office on the second floor of the library.

Natural lighting is a noticeable feature in this inviting space, with windows on every wall. And those new technologies the community asked for? They include an in-house café, a “Create It” space with a green-screen-equipped video studio and an instrument-filled recording studio, as well as a rooftop patio and a courtyard on the first level. Here, bookshelves move to accommodate different events, book checkout is self-automated, Blu-ray discs have replaced DVDs, and both teens and children have their own, virtually soundproofed spaces. The library also opened with a collection of 70,000 materials, including magazines, books and audiobooks.

“There’s been a real shift in public libraries,” Singleton says. “Historically, libraries were warehouses of information and we helped people, we guided people to find that information. That was the skill of the professional librarian, but it’s changing. In libraries now, people are not just finding information — they’re actually creating it.

“We want to appeal to the entire community, not just to the intellectual or not just to the students. Libraries should be fun because it’s a community destination,” she adds.

The technical side of the library reflects the new demands of the world. The library was built by ZAS Architects + Interiors and AquiCon Construction Co. Ltd. to LEED Silver standards with many green-integrated technologies that include motion-sensor lights, low-flush toilets, two electric vehicle charging spaces and the potential for a future green roof if funding becomes available.

We want to appeal to the entire community, not just to the intellectual or not just to the students. Libraries should be fun because it’s a community destination

– Margie Singleton, CEO of Vaughan Public Libraries

Many residents, however, are concerned about the fate of the Maple Library, located about half a kilometre away. According to Singleton, the Maple Library will continue running and be monitored by the Library Board for a year. At the end of the one-year period a feasibility study will be conducted.

“Maybe we will make it smaller, maybe we’ll close it. Maybe we’ll leave it the way it is. The board will make that decision based on facts, rather than speculation,” she says.

“The Maple Library used to be frantic, the pace was frantic. Since we opened this library, it’s dropped down, so now it’s just busy. It’s still busy. It’s shockingly busy,” Singleton adds. She notes that the Maple Library may cater to an entirely different group than this library does. Where the Maple Library sees a lot of traffic from families after use at the adjoining community centre, the Civic Centre Resource Library is a standalone structure with resources that differ from the former. In a world where information is shared at lightning speed and as libraries change to meet the needs of a new demand, only time will tell.

As I leave the bright library behind I take a moment to glance around. A child is attempting to spin a shelf of books, looking for a new cover to entice him as his father hovers close by. A man, who appears to be retired, stands over a painting in a window-filled boardroom, a piece that he has been working on for the better part of the day. A toddler drags her mother past a group of teenagers, who are sitting on table-level chairs and working on their laptops. A man of about 50 sits beside a librarian, talking over their computers. If there’s anywhere in the city of Vaughan where we can find a place of our own, it’s this library.  

City Life Magazine sat down with residents of Vaughan and beyond to talk favourite books, spending time in libraries and more.

1. Maurizio Bevilacqua
Mayor of Vaughan

Q. What was your favourite book growing up?
A. As a child I enjoyed reading a range of books, but among my most cherished was The Adventures of Pinocchio, a book that teaches many valuable life lessons.

Q. Do you have a favourite quote or lesson learned from a book?
A. “Fall in Love” by Fr. Pedro Arrupe. This poem’s simplicity makes it profound. It answers the fundamental questions of what determines what we want and in turn, how it influences what we do. While it’s important to understand what you want in life and have a willingness to pursue it, what really gets you out of bed in the morning is what you love. This poem is definitely worth a read and if you take some time to contemplate and reflect on it, even better. It will be good for you.

2. Ann Pace
Principal, Tommy Douglas Secondary School

Q. Who is your favourite author or what is your favourite book right now?
A. Right now I would probably say Lawrence Hill. I really enjoyed The Book of Negroes, but I would just say I’ve gotten to enjoy his work, period. And it has that historical fiction aspect to it. He tells a story, he tells a story about people and he tells it very well.

Q. What do you think the importance of public libraries is?
A. It’s the accessibility. Public libraries make anything available to families, children, students. There’s no charge to using a public library. Especially now, the way that they’re being designed. They’ve always been inviting places. A child, a family, a student could spend hours here just immersing themselves in reading. Now that they also have an eBook catalogue, you can transfer books online and access it there. It just makes information and entertainment available to anyone at anytime.

3. Bradley Young
Manager, Grazie Ristorante in Vaughan

Q. Who is your preferred author or what is your favourite book?
A. I would say over the past 10 to 15 years I’ve always read Malcolm Gladwell books. I always find it really interesting what he brings to light. I would say he’s my favourite author.

Q. How has your reading changed over the years?
A. I find, for me, that reading was kind of the mandatory reading that was done in school. I think it’s changed now being a business professional. I focus a lot on the job I’m doing, so I’m always trying to keep abreast of what’s going on in restaurant news. On a personal level, I like autobiographies. I’ve always enjoyed autobiographies of sports individuals or teams.

4. Paolo Pusateri
Manager of Brand Marketing, Pusateri’s Fine Foods

Q. Do you have a favourite spot or location where you usually read?
A. I love reading outdoors. Right now I found a new spot on my balcony. It’s all concrete and sunlight but really warm so I love to be able to multi-purpose it with sitting outside, enjoying the weather and reading.

Q.What are you reading right now?
A. I’m reading a book called Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb. It’s a book about the origins of the Sicilian culture, and just the whole dynamic of how society has changed and how mythological fairy tales that have permeated into society have influenced it. It’s really interesting. I’m still not very far into it, so we’ll see where it goes.

I love reading outdoors. Right now I found a new spot on my balcony. It’s all concrete and sunlight but really warm so I love to be able to multi-purpose it with sitting outside, enjoying the weather and reading.

– Paolo Pusateri

5. Sandra Holvor-Calhoun
Centre Supervisor, Vaughan City Hall YMCA Child Care Centre

Q. What do you think the importance of public libraries is?
A. I used to be in a library every Saturday, picking out books and studying when I was going through school. I continue to pick out books now and bring my children to libraries for story groups. For my own programs at the YMCA, we’ve invited the library to come into our programs so we can incorporate a small literacy segment that combines different aspects of literacy, different puppet plays, songs, that sort of thing. It’s a great resource for the whole community, really. I think it’s of great importance.

Q. Who read to you growing up?
A. My mom, mostly. My mom is an avid reader to this day. She mostly read to me story and picture books as a child.

6. Joe Bruzzese
Store Manager, Longo’s Maple

Q. What kind of books did you read growing up?
A. I remember reading history books about Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Those were my favourite thing back then.

Q. Do you have a beloved author or book right now?
A. I have read a lot of books over the years but some of the ones I remember the most would be by Eckhart Tolle, who wrote The Power of Now and A New Earth, and there’s another one called Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. He talks about everything that everyone else usually talks about but he keeps it simple.

Q. Do you have a favourite quote?
A. Yes, [by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin]: “We’re not human beings living a spiritual experience, we’re spiritual beings having a human experience.”


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Erica Giancola

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