By Liza Morris/Special to The News
Maple Ridge Public Library, part of the Fraser Valley Regional Library system, opened in its current location on March 17, 2001 as part of the Maple Ridge Town Centre Project – a major redevelopment effort in the downtown core. A lot has changed over the past 20 years and through it all the library has remained a cornerstone of the community.
Early in 2001, the old library was closed and moved to a new purpose-built 37,000-square-foot location with two floors. It was a large new space designed not just for the present, but also with future community growth in mind.
At the time of the library opening in 2001, Maple Ridge had a population of 63,000 people. Today Maple Ridge has more than 91,000 residents.
As Maple Ridge has grown, so has the library – offering more programs and services to meet the needs of a thriving and dynamic community.
The new library was a major upgrade with lots of windows for natural light, amazing views of the Golden Ears, more public computers, a silent study room, a story room, large children’s, teen and adult play, lounge and study spaces, public meeting rooms, and enhanced staff work areas.
It was a huge improvement for both customers and staff.
The large new space allowed the library to become a centre for community engagement.
Through the years Maple Ridge Public Library has hosted annual celebrations for Eid, Diwali, Family Literacy Day, Seniors Month, Summer Reading Club, Reading Link Challenge, Star Wars Day, and more.
The library has collaborated with many community groups through the years, like the Community Literacy Committee to celebrate Family Literacy Day, Ridge Meadows Recycling Society to host Repair Cafes, and Art Studio Tours and Whonnock Weavers & Spinners to feature Artists in the Library.
It is a modern, energetic space where customers can expect to find the unexpected.
Two library staff members, Jan McAusland and Barb Hallam, were present when the new library opened and still work here 20 years later.
Jan remembers walking into the new library for the first time and being blown away by the height in the atrium and sheer size of the space compared to the old library. She was also impressed by the design and layout. It was unlike any library she had ever worked in before.
Barb recalls the shelving space in the new library was double that of the old library. The space felt so big that customers were given floor maps to help find different collections and spaces within the library.
On her first day of work, entering the new library, Barb felt she had found her dream job. She says, “Every day I would go to work and say I can’t believe I’m actually here.”
During the past 20 years, Maple Ridge Public Library has been proud to grow and evolve along with the community. We look forward to many more decades serving the public.
For more information about Fraser Valley Regional Library programs and services, check out the website at www.fvrl.bc.ca or contact your local library.
– Liza Morris is a community librarian at Fraser Valley Regional Library’s Maple Ridge branch
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