About Antigonish Town & County Library (The Peoples’ Place Library)
2014 Great Place in Canada -Public Space
The People’s Place Library in Antigonish, Nova Scotia is a wonderful community gathering space, representing a collaboration between several different organizations and local governments to create a central location providing not only library services, but also several other community offices and resources. This branch of the Pictou Antigonish Regional Library (PARL) opened in 2011, replacing a smaller space that was located nearby in the Town Hall.
Promoting Social & Economic Activities
The library not only provides a collection of books, magazines, DVDs and other media for users; it’s also home to a local Community Access Program (C@P) site, providing Internet and technology access, including wireless access, a 3D printer and scanner. Regular programming targets the youngest (ABCs for Babies) to oldest (Seniors’ Café) users, and includes family movie showings and open mic nights. Meeting rooms, including a community kitchen, can be used by non-profit groups free of charge, and a number of local social services, such as the adult learning association, are housed within the building.
The bistro area, with windows facing onto Main Street, houses monthly art displays featuring local talent, a summer mobile tourist information centre, and at Christmas is used by a local community fundraiser featuring trees and wreaths decorated by local businesses. Nanawall folding walls allows the building’s patio space to expand into the building in several locations, allowing further indoor/outdoor interaction when weather permits (Pearce et al, 2012).
Memorable / Unique Character
The library was developed and designed using a community-initiated place making process, developed by Project for Public Spaces (PPS) out of New York City (Pearce et al, 2012). Serving as more of a community centre than a traditional library, the building represents an adaptive reuse of a former grocery store site in the heart of the downtown, incorporating numerous “green” building technologies and featuring the work of a number of local craftspeople and artists.
Design / Architectural Features
The People’s Place includes numerous “green” building features, including geo-thermal heating, high-efficiency insulation and HVAC, solar hot water heating and power generation, rainwater harvesting for grey water systems and irrigation, a “hydration station” promoting re-usable bottles, “Stormceptor” catchment system, natural lighting through skylights, ventilation using operable windows, and landscaping that features native and drought-tolerant species.
A great deal of effort also went into sourcing as many materials locally as possible. Recycled materials were also incorporated into the new building, including the flooring. The building also incorporates and features the work of a number of local artists, both inside and out. Sculptures, murals, furniture and the fireplace mantel were created specifically for this space, providing the library with unique elements representing local tradition and character. The library has created a guide specifically featuring the local artists and their work incorporated in the building.
The building is oriented to maintain the street wall along Main Street, matching the setbacks of adjacent buildings and locating parking and patio spaces to the side/rear of the site. Bike racks feature prominently at the front of the building, and a sheltered seating area and entrance, pet waiting/watering station, ample lighting and direct access to a crosswalk encourage pedestrians and cyclists. The building includes barrier-free access features, and its through-lot design and rear entry allows easy entrance from private and public parking lots off of an alley behind the building.
Reflecting Local Culture/History/Landscape
This space reflects local culture/history/landscape through its use of locally-sourced materials and artwork featuring local craftspeople of the various backgrounds represented in the community. The building and its offerings are inclusive and diverse, and the space functions as a home-away-from-home for Town and County residents alike.