Stanley A. Milner Library
|Location||7 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The Stanley A. Milner Library is the main library for Edmonton Public Library. It is normally located on the southern side of Sir Winston Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton, near City Hall, Edmonton City Centre mall, the Francis Winspear Centre for Music, and the Citadel Theatre. In January 2017, the library closed its doors for a major renovation, as all but the basic structure will be removed to be rebuilt with an architectural design similar to that of the Art Gallery of Alberta located a few blocks away. Its services have been relocated to a temporary space on Jasper Avenue in Enterprise Square. As a central location in Edmonton, the library often takes part in various events held at Churchill Square. In 2010, the library held an outdoor book sale in the square, selling aging and duplicate materials to the public. The Stanley A. Milner Library had a number of meeting rooms and a small theater in the lower level, that were used for library programs and would also be rented out by the public. The building is directly connected to the underground pedway network and to Edmonton's LRT. A number of ETS bus routes also serve the library along Harbin Road (102 Avenue) and 100 Street. Underground parking, run by the city, is also available.
The Stanley A. Milner Library is also a centre for assistive services. Specialized magnifiers, projection reading rooms, large print books, braille material, voice dictation stations, and specialized computers are available as part of the library's mission to provide information access to all.
The Stanley A. Milner Library was opened in 1967 on the southern edge of Churchill Square. The site of the library was originally home to Market Square, Edmonton's main square and city market from 1900 to 1965. Although the square and market were considered a hub of Edmonton's community, the city wished to create a more dedicated civic centre. The city had already built and relocated city hall to its current location in 1956 and, in conjunction with the new art gallery completed in 1969, the library was designed to form part of this new centre.
The library replaced the original downtown library, which was located one block south on Macdonald Drive (today Jasper Ave) and 100th Street. The original downtown library was funded by a donation from Andrew Carnegie and completed in 1923 (a temporary downtown library had existed prior to this). The building was small though, and the city's growth boom in the post-WWII years fueled demand for a larger building. The new building was designed in the Brutalist style, common for many public buildings constructed in Edmonton in the 1960s. It features a cantilevered second level above a smaller lower level, exposed concreted, plate glass window walls, podium pillars, and a four-story tower atop it. It opened in 1967, and was originally named the "Centennial Library" in honour of the Canadian Centennial that year. The small public square on the south side of the library building was also named "Centennial Square". The original downtown library was sold and demolished in 1968, to make room for the Alberta Government Telephones Tower (today Telus Plaza). The library temporarily closed in January 2017 for major revitalization of the building.
Direct connection to Edmonton's underground pedway system was added in 1978 when construction was completed on the original LRT line downtown. The library is connected to Churchill LRT Station, and can also reach most of the nearby arts and civic centre buildings through the pedway. In 1996 the library was officially renamed the "Stanley A. Milner Library," in honour of petroleum business leader, philanthropist, former city councilor, and former Library Board Chairman Dr. Stanley A. Milner. The first major renovation project to the library was completed in 1998, which saw the addition of a new front entrance facing Churchill Square, along with many interior upgrades. In 2010, the newly renovated children's library was reopened and named in honour of Dr. Milner's late daughter, Shelley Milner.
The Stanley A. Milner Library is the largest and one of the busiest Edmonton Public Library locations. It was still very up to date with assistive services, accessibility, and information technologies. However, The building was now over 50 years old and was beginning to show its age. As is common with many of Edmonton's Brutalist buildings of the era, the exposed concrete and other materials in the library were beginning to fail from years of weathering. Aging mechanical system designs have also led to ventilation concerns and wasted energy costs. In addition, there have been safety concerns regarding the front entrance of the library facing Churchill Square. The narrow sidewalk and busy bus stop just outside the entrance on 102 Avenue, has led to many congestion and safety problems.
In response to these concerns, the increasing cost and inefficiencies of the aging building, and a general misfit with the other, now more modern buildings in the civic and arts area, the city commissioned the architectural firm of Manasc Isaac to look into a "re-imagination" of the current building. The proposal would involve removal and replacement of the exterior walls, a new front entrance, and revamped interior with updated mechanical systems. The primary structure and layout of the building, however, would not be changed. This would provide significant cost-savings in comparison to completely replacing the building, while still transforming it into a modern, energy efficient space. Construction started in January 2017, and is expected to be completed in 2020. The library already has access to the two lines on the LRT system from Churchill station, and the Valley Line, also scheduled to be completed in 2020, will run past the library on 102 Avenue.
As part of Edmonton Public Library's regional division, the Stanley A. Milner Library serves the following nearby schools:
- Centre High School
- Edmonton Academy
- Grandin Elementary School
- John A. McDougall Elementary School
- Mother Teresa Elementary School
- Oliver Elementary/Junior High School
- Riverdale Elementary School
- St. Catherine Elementary/Junior High School
- St. Joseph High School
- Victoria School of Performing and Visual Arts
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