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Reading garden opens at Southfields Village library branch

June 23, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Zachary Roman

Sun shades over the new reading garden at the Southfields Village branch of the Caledon Public Library (CPL) were put to good use on Tuesday.

On a scorching hot June 21, CPL staff, board members, Mayor Allan Thompson, Caledon Councillors and more all gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Southfields reading garden.

Located just outside the Southfields Village library branch, the garden features a plethora of tables, chairs, benches, and, of course, plants. The aforementioned sun shades provide users of the garden shelter on hot days.

Colleen Lipp, CEO and Chief Librarian of CPL, delivered a speech to all in attendance about the importance of the garden and how it came to be.

She explained that in 2020, when the Southfields branch opened, there was not much fanfare due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But, over the years, she said she’s seen the branch get busier and busier each day.

“I like to think of this branch, the community centre, as the whole neighbourhood’s living room. It’s a shared space where neighbours can come together… where everyone can find something to read, to watch, to listen to, to connect with and to learn from,” said Lipp. “But if the branch is the neighbourhood’s living room, then this reading garden is the neighbourhood’s front porch. It’s a true public space. It’s a space where you can watch the world go by… you can watch our gardens grow. It’s a space where you can sit and relax with a coffee from the cafe next door. It’s a space where you can be alone with your thoughts or a good book. A space where you can come together with your friends, and hopefully make a few new ones.”

Lipp said the reading garden will draw attention from passersby and encourage them to come and check out what the Southfields Community Centre — in which the Southfields library branch is located — as a whole has to offer. The reading garden will also be used to host community events and library programs, Lipp explained.

The bones of the reading garden were built thanks to the Town of Caledon, said Lipp, when the initial design and construction process of the community centre was underway years ago. However, the ultimate vision for the reading garden was realized thanks to the federal government’s Canada Healthy Communities initiative, which was implemented to help municipalities transform community spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are incredibly grateful to all levels of government, to our supporters, to our partners and to our friends for their shared appreciation for the value of public libraries and the important role that we play in providing accessible, welcoming, vibrant public spaces,” said Lipp. “I also do want to take a moment to acknowledge the assistance of the Town of Caledon staff, the hard work of the library staff and the unwavering support of the library board in bringing this space to light.”

Mayor Thompson said he thought the new reading garden was extremely important, and thanked everyone involved in bringing it to fruition.

“Thank you for transforming this space into what can be dynamically and wholeheartedly enjoyed by residents within the community. We’re excited to see the long-lasting benefits it will have within the town of Caledon,” said Thompson. “Thank you to the library board for thinking outside the box, looking at the big picture of what the library needs and wants to become.”

Thompson explained when he was at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Regina, he heard from other municipalities whose libraries had a hard time modernizing. He said he was very proud to know that the Caledon Public Library back home has done that and more.

Dufferin-Caledon’s MPP Sylvia Jones was also at the grand opening and expressed how much she loved the look and feel of the new reading garden.

She said during door-knocking efforts for the recent provincial election, she spoke to a number of people who expressed their desire for community spaces where they could meet with their neighbours and join with friends and family. 

“I think this will be a very well-loved space,” said Jones. “Well done.”



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