Opinions on OPL Main?

Libraries are Great Work Spaces

I’m a big fan of Libraries, and since moving to Ottawa I’ve seen how amazing they can really be. The Ottawa Public Library is the largest bilingual public library system in North America, with 24 branches, two bookmobiles, and even a book vending-machine service. I’m also a big supporter of their used bookstore, run by the Friends of the OPL.

As a writer, I love getting out of the house to work, and I love that no matter where I am in the city I can open up the OPL app and find the nearest location where I can find a work station that suits my needs. Granted, I can always go to a coffee shop, but there is something special about working at a library (and not needing to buy an expensive drink or avoid the stink-eye of people waiting for a seat).

The latest OPL expansion happened over at the Beaverbrook branch, and it did not disappoint. The location closed in February 2013 and reopened in August 2014 as a new amazing workspace. It is equipped with two public meeting rooms (each with 45 person capacity), numerous small rooms for group work, an abundance of electrical outlets, and plenty of open seating by large windows to give you wonderful natural lighting while you work. Prior to the Beverbrook Branch reopening in August, my favorite work place was the Stittsville branch, which has one little closed-off room which always had space available for you to work in peace and quiet.

What Will Happen to the Central Branch?

Now on the forefront of OPL news is the central branch location.

Located downtown, at Laurier and Metcalfe, this 44-year-old branch was opened in 1971 and is currently badly outdated and it has outgrown its 81,000 square feet of space. It is often criticized for being much less user-friendly and accommodating than the neighboring coffee shops, especially when you consider that it is very difficult to get cell reception or reliable Wi-Fi.

Last summer a consulting firm was brought in and reported that it would be an estimated $70 million to renovate the current location. This renovation would strip the building down to its shell and rebuild with new glass facades, upgraded heating and electrical systems, better internal accessibility (including fixing the current one-way escalators) and increased room for meeting rooms and work areas. There is a lot being said about looking into a Public-Private Partnership (P3) to make these enhancements a reality.

OPL just announced that discussions concerning the Central Library are open to the public and set to start soon. If you would like to be a part of it, join in one of these three ways:

  1. Participate in the open public session on March 31 at 7pm at City Hal. Register at OttawaCentralLibrary.ca
  2. View the public session live webcast on OttawaCentralLibrary.ca and then submit your input online through April 6
  3. Visit the Main Branch from March 21-27 to write comments on the “idea board”

The results of this input will be made available to all in June 2015 through a report to the Ottawa Public Library Board.

Take a bit to think about what you would like to see in the central library upgrades, and make sure you chime in with your thoughts!




Tips for Working over Family Holidays

The holidays never cease to throw a wrench into any plans to be productive that I may have had. Living 1800 miles away from my hometown (where most of my family and friends reside) means it’s always a big deal when I am able to go home for a visit. It also means that no matter what my best intentions are, I never get as much writing done as I want to.

It is incredibly hard to get family and friends to understand your job when you work from home, especially if your time is spent all day on the computer. Writing takes a great deal of concentration, and it’s not the kind of thing that is easy to do when you have someone next to you chatting. Combine that with the fact that Christmas is a time for family and loved ones, and we’ve got a very stressful situation and a challenge of trying to find a balance.

It seems like it might be easiest to just take the time off completely and focus on family, but sometimes it isn’t possible to do that, or uncomfortable to take weeks away from making progress. In that case, I’ve been trying out two big tips to help me keep my momentum:

Practice Starting and Finishing: This applies to a work in general as well as daily writing. Sometimes I have something to do in the afternoon, but I have time to write in the morning and evening. I need to practice sitting down and hammering out words without the promise of a long stretch of writing time. For me, starting is the hardest part. I need to get used to it.

Appear in the afternoon: I’m lucky in that my family likes to sleep in, and they don’t really do anything before the coffee has had a few hours to activate their brains. This means I’m able to stay in my room and write in the morning without any distractions, and if they don’t “believe” I am working, they can just assume I’m sleeping. Of course, I’m fighting my own desire to get up and see what everyone is up to, but it works when I can!

The main thing is to keep going along, and not get discouraged no matter what!

Writing Spots: OPL East Ottawa

April 18

Writing Around Town

As a writer, I love to find new places to write. I have my old favorites, but there is something about going somewhere new that shakes up my routine and gets me in a productive mood. That’s just one excuse though, the truth is that I’m just a huge fan of the Ottawa Public Library system, and I want to be able to visit all of the branches before we are posted out of the city! As a small-town girl growing up, we only had a TINY public library, and then our own school libraries and the local College Library. The OPL system is HUGE to me!

Cumberland Library

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Cumberland

The Cumberland Branch is the farthest West branch of the Ottawa Public Library. One of the things I look for in a good writing spot is nearby refreshments, and this one has a Metro, Booster Juice and Tim Horton’s. They also have lots of parking.

One of my favorite things about working at the Library is the opportunity to use a table to spread out the book I’m taking notes from, my laptop, and any papers, etc.

One of the things that put Cumberland over the top for me? The separate area for Children! This kept the noise way down in the rest of the building.

This place has a ton of natural light, several small rooms to do group work, two table areas for study, and even a section of chairs next to a heater/fireplace for reading!

Orleans Library

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Unlike Cumberland, the Orleans Library is in a residential location. This means there doesn’t seem to be food or drink in immediate walking distance. There is parking though. So if you’re planning on spending the day there just pack a cooler and go eat in your car.

North Gloucester Library

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This library was busier, as it was in a more densely populated area. There was plenty of working space though. I’m guessing it would be super busy at the end of the day during the school year.