Top 10 Must See Libraries in Canada

If you wish to sneak inside this cave of mystery, here are the top 10 libraries in Canada. We have made sure to curate this list encompassing all captivating places to browse through the world of books. Have a look at them and make sure you visit as many as possible on your trip to Canada.

Landscape of Canada

It has seldom happened that you read a book and garner no knowledge from it. No matter what the origin of the book is, it will always have something or the other to contribute to your life. To define it even better in T. S. Eliot's words, “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man". It is this constant flickering hope that drives bibliophiles to some of the best libraries in Canada. It has come to notice that even a cursory scan of the nation’s book collection proves that Canada harbours invaluable treasure in the name of libraries with a gazillion versatile books to read.

From one city to another, these libraries are an emblem of innovative designs. While some are them are narrators of history others are just an embodiment of cool and intriguing facts, filled with various shapes, sumptuous tales, and unexpected thrills like games rooms for people of all ages, yoga lounges for yoga lovers and even come an amazing virtual reality station.

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Port Credit Branch Library, Mississauga, Ontario

The Port Credit Branch Library was first founded in the year 1896 and offered library services to the locals of the region coming from various locations of the country, in its early years of the establishment before it had discovered its permanent home at 20 Lakeshore Road East in the year 1962.

On June 9, 2021, the library decided upon shutting its gates to the public due to structural renovations. When the library had first came into existence in the early 1960s, it was destined to classy windows to enhance the beauty of the place. The windows were supposed to open to the adjacent Credit River. However, the budget cuts in the structural renovation resulted in the formation of a solid concrete wall, instead.

Later, with the 2013 renovation, which caused to win a Governor General’s Medal for the architects RDHA, they successfully managed to correct the mistakes done earlier. This ultimately resulted in producing a far more picturesque and pristine look for the library. Do pay a visit to this artistically blooming venue and lose yourself in the company of celebrated books.

Halifax Central Library

Halifax Central Library

Picture taken from dreamstime.com

The Halifax Central Library is a renowned public library located right in the heart of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is located towards the end of Spring Garden Road on Queen Street in Halifax.

The library is the face of the Halifax public libraries and is known to have replaced the Spring Garden Road Memorial Library. Even though "the boxy" structure of this library is nearly four years old, its architectural display talks volumes about the city's native history; so much so that the 5th floor of the building dramatically branches out from the building separating the Halifax Harbour and the Halifax Citadel.

If you wish to enjoy the breath-taking views of the city, there in the cantilever houses is an established urban living room which is built to serve this purpose, solely. 

Other than harbouring a rich collection of books stacked in its shelves, this new foundation also offers variety of amenities for the visitors such as cosy cafes, community rooms for various programs, and a very spacious auditorium. The most spectacular part of this building is the fifth floor's cantilever situated right above the entrance plaza. The staircases dramatically criss-cross the central atrium highlighting the building's transparency and its connotation of the urban context.

In the year 2014, due to its magnificent structure, the library managed to win a Lieutenant Governor Design Award in Architecture and a Governor General's Medal in Architecture in the year 2016.

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John. M Harper Library, Waterloo, Ontario

This picture-perfect modern library is celebrated for two purposes: the vibrant splash of pink that embraces the gym and the roof of the library, posing constant distraction to book worms who feel divided on the charms of the book and gleam of the place.

As per the text description provided by the architects of the library, this multipurpose library and community recreational facility demanded them to bring together two separate programs: the first being meeting the requirements of two diverse clients and the second being the ability to enhance the community endeavour. The objective was primarily to bring about a balanced integrated facility in which several program elements converse at once through a range of strategic architectural nuances.

The library's space includes study spaces for children, adults and teens and welcomes groups for flexible learning and community enhancement. There is also a very spacious computer research area meant for both advanced learning and recreational purposes.

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Morrin Centre, Quebec City

Morrin Centre, Quebec City

Picture taken from morrin.org

The Morrin Centre is constructed over a military barracks and is based out of a prison-turned Presbyterian college. The Centre is primarily recognised as a Cultural Centre in the city of old Quebec, Canada. The library has been crafted to aware people of the historic contribution and present-day modern culture of the local English-speaking crowd.

The library harbours a private English language space for the literary and historical society of Quebec, several heritage spaces for cultural events and a series of interpretation services for those interested.

The English language library has been home to the Morrin Centre since the year 1868. The library is now taken over by the literary and historical Society of Quebec, one of Canada's oldest literary circles. So old that it was once upon a time hosted by our very own Charles Dickens. Surprising enough? The library is known to embalm books dating back to the 16th century. If you are a fan of visiting archaic places, you should head over to Morrin Centre at once!

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Vancouver Public Library

Vancouver Public Library is a renowned public library system built for the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2013, Vancouver Public Library got visited by more than 6.9 million visitors from the country and beyond, with patrons borrowing about 9.5 million items which included CDs, DVDs, books, Newspapers, Newsletters, eBooks, and various magazines.

At 22 separate locations (both online and offline), Vancouver Public Library serves approximately 428,000 active members of the library and is now considered the third-largest library in the country of Canada. This highly accommodating and well-stacked public library includes a healthy collection of innumerable books and digital content.

The library also offers a good deal of community information, various informative programs for children, adults, and the youth, and gives delivery support to people who are homebound individuals. Is it not amazing? In addition to these services, the library also offers access to beneficial information and reference services for various day-to-day requirements such as knowledge of text databases, interlibrary loan services and more.

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Scarborough Civic Centre Library

Scarborough Civic Centre Library

The Scarborough Civic Centre Branch is officially the 100th of the Toronto Public Library, representing what a library can supposedly look like in the 21st century. Technologically well-equipped, welcoming to an ever evolving and heterogeneous population, and celebrating spectacular designs, the branch transgresses its initial role serving as a local community sphere. It serves as the focus of commonality of pride for the city-dwellers at large.

The library extends till the southern side of the Scarborough Civic Centre, an emblem of sky-high white abstract shapes created in 1973 by designers Moriyama & Teshima. The library’s calculated position at the south end corner of the Civic Centre further accentuates its surroundings by creating several different spaces and connections. Very close to the library’s main entrance, tilted columns give birth to a new plaza on the Borough Drive line.

Towards the west end of the library, an urbanised garden embraces the edge of a magnificent pedestrian pathway. It gives way to a second front entrance to this Civic Centre Library. All in all, this library is a must-visit for its architectural brilliance and the designs it embalms.

Surrey Civic Centre Library, B. C.

Picture taken from archdaily.com

The smooth-running lines of Surrey's Civic Centre Library cannot be merely seen as the outcome of an architect’s imagination. Quite interestingly, the foundation of the building was co-designed with the help of Surrey residents through idea-exchange planning set up by the designing team- the Bing Thom Architects. You can look them up on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr or Twitter.

The program accurately shows the requirements of the diverse community, such as the inclusion of a gaming room, a lounge meant for mediation and a space designed specifically for teens. Within the 82,000 square feet area, the Surrey City Centre Library encompasses a spacious children’s library, about 80 computers for public usage, 24/7 Wi-Fi, a sweet and simple coffee shop, and several quiet undisturbed rooms for individual study as well as separate spaces assigned for meetings of larger groups.

The building puts to use the dense urban population to its advantage, creating various scales of space that start from a grand entrance, reading rooms that are capable of orchestrating significant events to rooms with lower ceilings for stacks and, finally, small private rooms for study purposes.

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Library of Parliament, Ottawa

It’s hard to figure out where to gaze inside this lavishly spread-out parliamentary library. Initially set up to help provide information to the Members of Parliament and their various staff. The very delicately caricatured wooden stacks, aesthetically inlaid floor, and sky-high dome-shaped roof all usher the atmosphere of the Victorian age when it was built. The Victorian era used to be a time when architecture was at its peak and buildings were as grandly decorated as a wedding cake.

The Library of Parliament is identified as the central information hub and research resource place for the Parliament of Canada. The site has been augmented and renovated several times since the construction started in the year 1876.

The last revamping took place between 2002 and 2006, even though the primary structure and the aesthetic continued to remain essentially authentic. The building now serves as the Canadian emblem and appears on the ten-dollar Canadian bill. 

Vaughan Civic Centre Resources Library, Ont.

At Vaughan Civic Centre, you need not be feared of speaking too loud because Vaughan's newest library admires and respects hustlers. The library was inaugurated in the year 2016, and the best part about this library is that it welcomes modern adaptive forms of learning, such as including a recording booth and installing a virtual reality station. These learning spaces were created after a brainstorming session of visioning and exploring the evolving individuals and their ideas in this digital age.

We can call the makers of the Vaughan Civic Centre Resource Library visionary architects to bring about revolutionary changes in libraries so that it matches the expectations of digital progress. The library dedicates itself to community gathering, learning, participating in various activities and interacting over chosen topics.

The abstract geometry of the library in the form of a loop around the central courtyard is a metaphoric representation of complex ideas overlapping each other, something which the library celebrates and preaches.

Grande Bibliothèque, Montreal

The Grande Bibliothèque Library is a renowned public library in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The library's display is part of Bibliotheque et Archives (BAnQ). The library's collection comprises about four million works in total, which includes 1.14 million books, 1.6 million microfiches, and about 1.2 billion documents. Most of these works are written in French. Approximately 30% of it is in the English language, and the rest of the work exhibit a dozen different language.

The most bizarre fact about the library is that it has an eighty km long shelf space to accommodate the books. Not just this, but the library also harbours an exclusive multimedia collection which includes 70,000 music DVDs, 16000 hand-picked films on DVD and Blu-ray, 5000 music tracks and about 500 software programs, all available for borrowing. The library is also highly inclusive in its choice of collection and displays; a separate section of the library holds about 50000 documents that can be read by visually impaired individuals, braille scripts and audiobooks.

The library is contemporary in its architectural style, with a four-storied building studded with U-shaped glass plates that have never been seen or used before in North America. The plates have been placed horizontally on a copper base to scale the height of the structure.

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