New Abbotsford Community Library set to open

The new facility at Abbotsford Senior Secondary is open to the public and replaces the old Matsqui Centennial Library.

Hilary Russell

A bigger, brighter, modern library awaits the public as the Abbotsford Community Library opens its doors for the first time on Monday, Nov. 26.

Built at Abbotsford Senior Secondary, as part of a $45 million school renovation, the new $4 million library replaces the downtown MSA Centennial Library, which closed its doors for the last time on Nov. 2.

“We have a lot more space for the public, and a lot of beautiful sunshine,” said Hilary Russell, the manager of Abbotsford libraries for the Fraser Valley Regional Library.

The first thing visitors will notice is the new library’s size. At 11,000 square feet, it is almost three times the size of Centennial. It is also bright with natural light, with large windows in the east-facing wall.

Russell said it has taken three weeks to get the entire collection as well as furniture and shelves through the door. Now staff is setting up, and the facility is taking shape. The collection of some 35,000 items is being organized onto shelves.

The additional space means the library can accommodate more materials, and staff has been preparing seven pallets, or 350 boxes, of new books and materials to be added to the system.

The large, open space is shared with Abbotsford Senior, and a section of the library is the “school zone,” accessible to the general public only outside of school hours.

Russell is excited about some of the new technology, which includes a book sorting system. Materials that come in through a return slot fall onto a conveyor, travel to a central sorter, and then are conveyed into one of seven bins, each designated for a specific category. After that, they can be quickly put back into circulation.

There are also two book checkouts where patrons can check out their materials by swiping library cards and books.

The entire school building is a LEED project (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), with features that promote water efficiency, energy conservation and use recycled or renewable materials.

For example, the heating system is a “smart” design, which will transport heat from parts of the building that are warmer to rooms which are cooler. The source of heat is geo-thermal; runoff water is put back into the aquifer rather than storm drains; and several parking spots will allow electric vehicles to be charged.

There is still work to be done, and the children’s area won’t be finished until  December. It does contain a new bear mascot, and a “name the bear” contest for kids is coming up.

Monday will offer a “soft” opening, said Russell, noting the main parking lot might not be finished by then. But an official opening will be held when the entire facility is unveiled.

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