New Lowell is a community of approximately 1,200 people in the former Sunnidale Township, now part of Clearview Township, west of Creemore. In 2000 the community library, which had been housed in the town community centre, was relocated to a portable due to a deteriorated condition in the building. This caused great concern for the residents as the portable was too small to meet their needs (65% of the collection was put in storage) and ultimately, they worried they may loose their library. The New Lowell Library Committee was formed to look at promoting a new library in the community. Their attention was drawn to the old one-room school house circa 1871 standing in the centre of town. This is one of the last historical structures in New Lowell and used for the past 20 years as an equipment shed for the municipality. A business plan was developed and Trillium fund secured.

The choice of the school building was fundamentally important. The structure, although run down, was still solid. A design was developed to meet the needs of the expanding community for the next 20 years. The school building became the book stack room and main program space. Small single storey additions were designed to flank the main structure and connect toward the rear so as to compliment the main structure. On the one side, the addition houses the main entrance, mechanical room and washrooms. There is a clear ‘link’ connecting it to the main structure. On the opposite side is a new children’s reading room. The design incorporates techniques for high energy efficiency, including passive daylighting throughout, especially in the book stack area. The building is already finding success as a social hub and a landmark reinforcing the identity of this community.

Photography by: Sean O’Reilly