Thursday, September 1, 2016

City Daily Photo Theme Day: Library

The first day of each month is a theme day for members of City Daily Photo, and for September, the theme is Library. It was chosen by Susan Kelly, who blogs from Jinan in China. You can see how other photobloggers are interpreting the theme here.

The Ottawa Public Library has thirty three branches (and bookmobile service) spread over the city, both in urban and rural areas, a legacy of the amalgamation of the cities and townships of the former region of Carleton into one city. The OPL is the largest bilingual library system in North America, at least in terms of English and French. I'm focusing on two branches. The Sunnyside branch is in Old Ottawa South, just off the Bank Street Bridge, and it's the branch I'm at most often, since it's close to home. Out front there are flower beds- by August, sunflowers are dominating them. The building itself dates back to the 1950s, and used local Nepean sandstone in some of its construction, reflecting the look of Southminster United Church, which stands across the road.

The Main branch of the system is downtown. There was a Carnegie library at this spot originally. In the 1970s, someone lost their mind and decided to tear it down and replace it with this. To be fair, it was the Seventies, and that whole era was a bad time for architecture. There are plans under discussion for a new central library.

Inside, this mosaic panel catches my eye when I go in. It's set on the side of a staircase going up to a reading area above the main floor, and consists of numerous coloured irregular tiles- and the odd letter, number, or symbol, as you can see in the second shot. This panel appears to be removable, so if this branch ends up taking up new digs, there's no problem at all in taking it along.

This is the reading area taken from above- I took this back in the winter while there was a Human Library event going on in here. It featured people from various walks of life chatting about their lives and professions with those members of the public who have signed up. I've done this sort of thing in a different context during Nuit Blanche festivals here.

I finish with this- the one remaining element of the Carnegie era library still incorporated into the Main branch. It's a stained glass window with authors like Shakespeare, Dickens, Scott, Tennyson, and more incorporated into its glasswork. It hangs above the reading area. 


  1. Beautiful library. I like photos nr. 4 and 5.

  2. The wall is unique, artistic and very pretty. I like it a lot.

  3. Always good to see a nice library as an old libarian.

  4. How wonderful that they kept the window from the old Carnegie building and the files wall is fab. Will be interesting to see the new changes.. if they go ahead!

  5. i enjoy that sunflowers, that brick numbers design. so cool!! and certainly not the least the stain glass, nice!! ( ;

  6. @Linda: thank you.

    @Orvokki: thanks!

    @Stuart: I always thought so.

    @Gunn: as do I.

    @Marianne: they're great spaces to spend time in.

    @Grace: it'll be quite a process.

    @Beth: thank you!

  7. I am hoping our libraries do not disappear.

  8. The number of libraries speaks well of the readers in your city!!

  9. We have a large number of libraries here as well.

  10. To tear down an original Carnegie is almost a crime---but what is done id done! Interesting mosaic panel.

  11. The mosaic panel is fantastic, William !

  12. Thank you, William, for that very informative overview. I have a soft spot of course for the stained glass window which is lovely. It was good that you could take such a close-up photo.

  13. @Janey: libraries are the soul of a society.

    @Kate: the branches seem well used, at least the ones I've gone into.

    @Norma: that's a good thing.

    @MB: if there'll be another central branch, it'll be nice to take that mosaic along.

    @Karl: I agree!

    @LDP: you're welcome. I took that off the staircase, actually. There's a landing between the third and second floors that gives one a direct head on look at the window.

    1. Check out the artist, Gerald Trottier's website: or his instagram Gerald Trottier (GT) to see more of his artwork.

  14. The stained glass window is beautiful and the mosaic panel is very creative. I like the photo that is looking down at the people conversing. A very nice library indeed!

  15. I suppose you will never run out of places to photograph!!!! Cool!

  16. That mosaic is especially wonderful. You have a robust library system.
    The first library I ever went to was a Carnegie and it was (and still is) classically beautiful. What dreadful things were done in the 1970s in the name of progress.

  17. You have a great theme for this time. Libraries have changed and are changing faster with the digital age..

  18. This is a great library, I especially love that stained glass. Our family still loves a trip to the library, even on our travels.

  19. Your library system, as everything else in Ottawa, is very impressive.

  20. A great library system! And your photos are also very informativ.

  21. That mural looks so 70s! It seems that we Canadians really like to use our libraries!

  22. @Bill: the irony is there was a no photos rule for that event, but then I was just passing through and didn't see that sign anyway until I was on the ground floor.

    @Jennifer: I know in summer I have no shortage of photo subjects, to the point where I just ignore some events entirely.

    @Kay: there is one surviving Carnegie here, and I have photographed there before. I should photograph it again before winter.

    @Sharon: it's quite an artistic addition.

    @Marleen: so do I. Before there was a renovation, this space was actually the check out area.

    @Red: that's quite true.

    @Denise: it's great that the stained glass was preserved.

    @Lowell: thanks!

    @Brigitta: thank you.

    @RedPat: it does evoke that era.

  23. Love the sunflowers. I've seen very few so far this year.

  24. I really do like all that I see here. Great library system and some beautiful stained glass and mosaics too.

  25. The mosaic is by Gerald Trottier of Ottawa. He worked in many visual mediums including sculpture,paintings and tile. There is another very large mosaic at Carleton University.

  26. Fascinating library styles. The mosaic is particulalrly creative with those beautiful embedded elements.

  27. I love our simple library for the mere sake of its existence. Ottawa is a very interesting place but I'm judging from your remarkable photos.

  28. The stained glass was my favorite. It is nice to hear about a library that is thriving. The library in my town has been downsized. If it weren't for the Friends of the Library, they would have some really hard times.

  29. @Revrunner: we've had a good many around.

    @Lauren: thanks!

    @Anonymous: ah, thanks for the information. I'll have to go seek out his work at Carleton. Odds are I've passed by it frequently.

    @Gemma: it's quite a work of art.

    @Eve: it does have its interesting side.

    @Mari: libraries are a lifeblood of civilization as far as I'm concerned. We need more of them.

    @Tex: thanks!

  30. Love the mosaic and that window!

  31. Wow, great photo series William! And an informative post too!

  32. Many thanks to share with us so many informaion about the OPL. Very interesting.

  33. @Linda: thank you!

    @Tamera: it was a good theme choice.

    @MDP: you're welcome.

    @Jackie: so do I.

    @Jennifer: ah, best forgotten as an era!