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Heather Abrey photo

Heather Abrey photo

Sonia Lewis, CEO of the Kitchener Public Library, is looking forward to the new addition to the library’s main branch, as well as new technology, including a phone app expected early this year.

New addition, new tech, new year for KPL

By Heather Abrey
Kitchener Post staff

There are some big changes brewing at the Kitchener Public Library (KPL) for 2013, including a large new facility.

“Looking back on 2012, the biggest project we took on was the construction of the main library,” said Sonia Lewis, CEO of the KPL.

The new addition will add 20,000 square feet to the location on Queen Street and is expected to be finished this year.

“They’re in there now very busily finishing floors and ceilings,” said Lewis. “And the plan is early in the new year we will move into the addition and operate the library out of the addition,”

Once the entire library is moved into the new space, the contractor will take over the original section for renovations, expanding the second floor and upgrading the building to meet gold LEED building standards, according to Lewis. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification that represents how environmentally friendly a building is.

“Because of the age of this building — 50 years old — things like insulation need to be improved. That’s why it’s a major renovation that will happen,” said Lewis.

Once everything is completed, the library will have a children’s section that is three times its current size, a café, a courtyard for programs or reading and a new “discovery zone” for children.

“There’s a lot more to the library than books,” said Lewis. “I think people might be surprised to know that you can download music, you can, of course, access electronic books . . . (and) because of the demise of many of the DVD stores in the community — except for good old Steve’s — we have a great collection of DVDs available.”

The KPL has worked to embrace technology, she said, and expanded their social media presence in 2012.

“We’re very active in using Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about the library and activities, and then in November our marketing staff did establish a YouTube,” said Lewis. “So that’s looking ahead at next year. We’re anticipating expanding even further and I’m sure that will mean looking at YouTube.”

Beyond social media, the KPL will be automating room bookings and program registration, as well as launching a new cellphone app in the first quarter of 2013. The app will allow users to browse the library’s catalogue, check or place holds and more, Lewis said.

“I think that will be very exciting. Sort of the library on-the-go,” she said.

“It’s just one of many ways that we’ve incorporated technology at the library. But that’s not to say that we’re abandoning our traditional route. You’ll still find plenty of books on the shelves. We always strive to find a balance between the old and the new: Technology and traditional.”

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