The Mississauga Central Library dates back to 1956, when residents of Toronto voted to establish a public library. The first location was opened on November 13, 1963, consisting of a central location with four branches. The current Central Library, located on Burnhamthorpe Road, was opened on September 23, 1991. The library is a dynamic public space, which has evolved to change the way services are offered based on the needs of the community and the technology available, from the days of 70-millimeter film to today’s green screen system and 3-D printer.
The library also provides access to e-books, audiobooks, streaming services, and extensive digital services that can be accessed online 24/7. The Mississauga Public Library Board and staff hope to continue this evolution with exciting plans that meet the changing needs of the community.
Last Saturday, the Mississauga Central Library celebrated its 25th anniversary. The support from local community members and public figures at the anniversary’s opening ceremony emphasizes the importance and appreciation for the library system within the community. This is not only a milestone for the library system, but for the entire community.
Saturday’s event marks the official kickoff of a year of activities that plan to celebrate the library’s anniversary. These upcoming events intend to pay tribute to the history of the library while also making new memories for the next generation.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie refers to the library as “the jewel of our public library system.” The Mississauga Central Library is one of the largest public library systems in Canada. The library system has 18 locations, over 300,000 registered users, and is continuously contributing to the emerging and thriving downtown Mississauga core; the central library has always been fundamental in driving people towards the downtown area.
The library system uses inclusive, diverse, and customer-focused services to assist its patrons. Citizens of Mississauga and other visitors choose to come to the library to enrich themselves and their skills. “The library system is going to help the community succeed in terms of digital literacy and lifelong learning,” says Rose Vespa, director of library services. The Mississauga Library System attempts to embody their motto, “The library changes lives,” by providing library services to meet the lifelong informational, educational, cultural, and recreational needs for all citizens.
“Our Library Board […] believes that libraries are all about possibilities. Possibilities for you, for your families, and for our many communities here,” says Priscilla Mak, member of the Library Board. “We also believe in possibilities for equal access to knowledge and technology, and for safe, inspiring, community spaces.”
Last Saturday’s events included the Story Room packed with children enjoying stories read to them by library staff, visitors singing silly songs on the lower level, a green screen photo booth on the ground floor, and a “Show and Play” activity on the second floor that allowed people to interact with innovative technology.
The green screen photo booth, which uses a green screen, laptop, and camera, allowed the individual to choose a favourite background, position themselves with guidance from the library staff, and have a picture of themselves with whatever background they desired. The Eiffel Tower was a popular destination.
The green screen program teaches users the basics of “movie magic”. Youths learned how to use iMovie, and were allowed to make a movie and then keep a copy. This allows the imagination and creativity of children to be expressed in a way than many others do not have access to without the equipment and technology provided through the library system—maybe even allowing a young person to discover a passion for filmmaking.
At the Show and Play area, children and adults had fun interacting with circuits; they played piano on the computer via different fruits connected through circuits, snap circuits, electrical circuits, and robotics. They were seeing and crafting with needlepoint and stitching, exposing the user to the possibilities surrounding technology. At the Mississauga Central Library, children are being taught skills without restricting their creativity. This allows a rare opportunity for children to learn in an environment where there is no pressure of being evaluated.
As the members of the community gathered around to sing “Happy Birthday” to their library, there wasn’t a person in sight who didn’t have a smile on their face.
With librarians located on all levels of the library, ready to assist patrons, read to children, or provide encouragement for individuals’ projects or interests, the library’s 25th anniversary celebration was a great place for people of all ages to show their love and support for the library system.