Tag Archives: Sophie @ WPL

Do websites get retirement parties?


Our old catalogue interface officially retired this month. After 12 long years of use, the time had come for the old cowboy to head off into the sunset – after all, for a website, 12 years is a long, storied life. The old site had been chugging along just fine, but the software it was running off of was retired by the vendor, leaving no room for new growth or changes, and no way to properly incorporate our new and emerging library collections like OverDrive eBooks and hoopla movies.


While we were sad to see it go, the thing that surprised us the most was how may of you, our patrons, were surprised/shocked/annoyed/disappointed to see it go. Clearly, many of you had the same affectionate feelings for our virtual library as we know you have for our physical spaces.

Here’s some of the questions we’ve been hearing from you:

Since when do you have a new catalogue?

Since April of last year! Our new catalogue was officially launched on April 22, 2014, after a soft launch and testing period in the first part of that month. We left the old catalogue running to ease the transition, and many of our patrons continued linking to the original page simply because that was the page they had bookmarked for quick access. We couldn’t keep both sites running forever, though, and chose the one-year anniversary as a reasonable date for the old site’s retirement. The old site is now completely blocked to outside use, so if you click on a saved bookmark and get a “this page can’t be accessed” message, you need to delete the bookmark and replace it with one that points to the new site, http://winca.ent.sirsidynix.net

I can’t log in, I’m getting an error message

Problems logging in the first time you try to access your account on the new site? Contact the library, we can fix it right away. An error message popping up the very first time you try to log into your account  means that you had books saved in the “My List” part of your library account that haven’t transitioned smoothly to the new site. To get the problem fixed, send us an email via this form, making sure to include your library card number and PIN (last 4 digits of your phone number) and indicating that you’re stuck with the “First-time catalogue login problem.” We can fix the problem for you in no time flat.

I never added any books to My List, so why would that be the problem?

You may not even remember adding the books to a “My List”, but there’s probably something there – those lists never expire so a book added back in 2008 may be the culprit.

Is there any way to sort my holds? I can’t see how to do that now.

We’ll admit that this one is a bit harder to pick out than other features.  If you have a long holds list and like to be able to sort through them to see what’s coming or suspend groups of titles when you go on vacation, sorting the list by title or status is a useful option. The sort option is the little circle icon next to each column header; click on that icon to sort A-Z, and click it again to reverse the list. sortmyholds


Why does “My Account” on new site show me my personal information instead of showing my checkouts or holds?

That’s easy – it’s because you haven’t had a chance to go in and set your personal preferences yet. In the third section of the “Personal Information” tab, you get the option of choosing what view you default to when you log in to your account. If you frequently log in to check your holds and see what’s waiting for you on the pickup shelf, you can tell the page to default to “Holds” view. If you’re more often coming to the site to renew your materials, you might want to tell the page to default to “Checkouts” view. It’s up to you!


For more Q & A and helpful tips: 

Mobile Website changed

Another recent website change! This past week we changed our mobile website (the page that you get to when you visit our library home page, wpl.winnipeg.ca, on a smartphone or small tablet) so that it takes you to the web version of our WPL to Go app, instead of to a basic information page. The benefit to this is that it gives you a quick, mobile-friendly catalogue search on your phone, without having to browse the full-sized page on your small screen or installing the WPL to Go app. You’ll also be able to access all of our upcoming event listings, quickly locate the closest library branch, grab an available eBook from OverDrive or eMagazine from Zinio, and more!

To try it out for yourself, just enter wpl.winnipeg.ca in your phone’s browser.



New Features in the WPL to Go App


We’ve got some new features in our WPL to Go app that we’re sure you’re going to enjoy. If you’ve got the app already installed, the features are live already (no need to install an update, just open your app and explore!)

wpltogoappmainNew Look

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that we’ve updated our app icons… our old icon set was looking a bit dated, so we’ve gone in and done a bit of a makeover. The new look is cleaner and sleeker – we hope you like it! If something’s not where you expect it to be in the app, note that all of the services that you’ve been using the app for – searching for books, checking your library account, contacting the library – are still there; we’ve just rearranged things a bit to make room for some new content.

Leave your card at home

The most anticipated new feature is the app’s ability to store your library card number and display your barcode for scanning at the checkout desk.   That’s right, you can now leave your library card at home (or lost in the back of your wallet, whatever) and just scan your app instead!

To show your barcode at checkout, you need to first save your library card in the app. If you use the app to place holds on items all the time, you’ve probably done this already – just check the “Remember login” box on the My Account sign in page.

wpltogoapplogin   wpltogoappshow   wpltogoappcard

Once you’ve signed in, you’ll now see a line that says “Library Card (#####): show card for scanning.” Tap this and a version of your library card will appear on the screen. You can show this to the staff member at your local library’s checkout desk to access your account, or use it on any of our self-checkout machines (note that you may have to turn your screen brightness up to 100% to get the scan to work).

cool new content

wpltogoappcontentWe’ve also added more library content on the front page of the app, so you can launch all of your favourite WPL services with a tap of your finger. We’ve always included a quick link to our available OverDrive eBooks and eAudiobooks (and that’s still there) but now we’ve also added quick links to our hoopla digital (movies, music and audiobooks) and Zinio eMagazines services, too.

We’ve also added a quick link down at the bottom of the app that takes you to our full library website, for those occasions when you find you need to access a library service that isn’t included in the app (after all, it’s an app, it can’t do everything).

what’s happening at the library this week?

wpltogoappcalInterested in checking out a program at the library? Want to know if there’s any interesting programs at your local branch this week? Or looking for computer classes to help brush up on a skill? Tap on Programs and Events to open the complete list of upcoming library events – and then search the Calendar list for something you’re interested in.

Enter your local branch name in the search box to find events near you, or search for a descriptive word like “story,” “ipad,” “HELP” (yes, we have programs that match that term!)

Try it out!

If you haven’t already downloaded the WPL to Go app, you can do so right now just by going to https://winnipeg.boopsie.bredir.com/ (the page will redirect you to your device’s app store so you can install it right away – it’s free!).

You can also try it live before installing the app by going to http://winnipeg.boopsie.bredir.com/m on your device. You can try this on your computer, too – just go to the page and then shrink your page window down to phone size.

We hope you enjoy it!


Library apps on your Tablet – more than just eBooks!

You’ve got devices, we’ve got apps!


This fall, the Library is offering a new series of tech workshops designed to expand the range of “things we show you how to do” on your devices. We’ve focused on eBooks (and to some extent, eAudiobooks) in the past, but we’ve never covered the whole RANGE of options. This is partially because some of our services are newer than others – our eMagazines service has only been on offer since January, and our streaming movies and music service only since April.

The other major reason that the range has been limited is that to explain all the services on all of the various tablets that people bring in takes a lot of time and can be confusing (brain/information overload!). To deal with this, for our fall series we’re splitting the sessions by device type – iPads in one class, Android tablets in another – so that no one is presented with information that doesn’t apply to their device and everyone can follow along, step-by-step.

The drawback to this arrangement is that to cover the range of tablets available, we need to have more sessions, and our resources are limited. To start off, we’ll be offering sessions for iPad and Android only, but Windows 8 devices will be offered as an option in the near future. If you’re interested in having the Windows 8 session at a branch near you, please contact the branch directly and let them know!

A listing of when & where these sessions will take place can be found in the September/October issue of @ the Library (coming to a branch near you next week). Subscribe to our email newsletter to get it delivered the first day it’s available!

Because some people prefer the “Do-It-Yourself” method, here’s a rundown of the library services you can get on your device with links to our “visual guides” for setup and installation:

OverDrive Media Console App: for eBooks and eAudiobooks

Search your app store for the keyword: Overdrive

OverDrive is our most popular eBooks platform! To download books from OverDrive, you need to install the OverDrive Media Console app, even if you already have an app like iBooks or Kobo for your purchased eBooks. Library eBooks have “time-lock” software attached to them that controls the lending/returning of the books (the “library” part of the deal!), and you need an app that knows how to handle the library code. Luckily the OMC app is free and easy to use – just follow the steps in our visual guides:


Guide to OverDrive for your iPad


Guide to OverDrive for your Android Tablet


Guide to OverDrive  for Windows 8 tablets







Hoopla app: For streaming and downloading Movies, Music and Audiobooks

Search your app store for the keyword: Hoopla

Hoopla is the newest download service offered by WPL, but it’s quickly becoming one of our favourites! Hoopla allows you to stream movies, TV, music and audiobooks on any computer, and if you’ve got an iPad or Android tablet, you can download your items and save them for offline use (like road trips, plane rides or days at the cottage!). You can check out 10 items per month, per card.


Guide to Hoopla for iPad


Guide to Hoopla for Android







Zinio app: for downloading and reading eMagazines

Search your app store for the keyword: Zinio

Zinio eMagazines are great because they never expire! Once you’ve checked out an issue, you keep it for as long as you like. The only complication is that the account setup process can seem a bit confusing. If you read through our Zinio Account Setup Guide, though, you should be able to figure it out pretty quickly. Once you’ve got your accounts ready, download the Zinio app and start checking magazines out! Note that even though the eMagazines don’t need to be “returned” to the library like our eBooks do, you still need to use this specific library app to download the files. The eMagazines are in a proprietary file format that can only be opened in the Zinio app, so other apps like Newsstand can’t open them.

Guide to the Zinio App for iPad

Guide to the Zinio App for Android


Guide to the Zinio app for Windows 8







WPL to GO: the Library’s OWN App!

Search your app store for the keyword: Winnipeg

Last but not least, we have our own app – one that gives you quick access to the library catalogue, shows you holds you have available and when your items are due, all in a touch-friendly environment. For more details and links, head to our demo page where you can try the app live before you download it!



Tech Tips & News for April

Phew, it’s been a busy few months around here! First we launched our RBDigital/Zinio eMagazines collection, and now we’re launching two new library services – a new library catalogue interface and a new streaming/download service for movies, music and audiobooks.  On top of that, we’re keeping tabs on new updates to existing services like OverDrive to make sure that you have the best patron experience possible. Here’s a run-down of all the recent developments in the “online” part of Winnipeg Public Library’s services:

A New Search Interface

We’ve been quite busy putting the finishing touches on our new library catalogue. If you haven’t explored it yet, there’s never been a better time, because starting today (April 22, 2014) all of our website links are set to direct you to the new site instead of the old one. If you’re curious about the new site and would like a guided tour, we’ve got that covered! Our quick visual catalogue tour covers all the basics of the new search interface. For those among us who like digging into the “how does it work” details, there’s also an extensive help document that covers all the functions and options of the catalogue/account system. As with any new product roll-out, there are bound to be kinks found and adaptations to be made after the launch. At WPL, we’re proud of our customer-driven focus and as such, welcome any feedback that you might have on the new search interface. If there’s a function that you think is missing, or would like to see added, let us know; if it’s not something that can be added at this time, we’ll try to add it in future upgrades!

What’s all the Hoopla? New Video and Music Streaming Service

banner-no-textOn April 14, Winnipeg Public Library joined forces with hoopla, an innovative new service that partners with local public libraries to bring you thousands of movies, television, music, and audiobook titles for free. All you need is your library card; enter your barcode and PIN (last four digits of your phone number) and you’ll be able to register for a hoopla digital account.

Your hoopla account allows you to borrow 10 digital items per month, and the choices range from movies and TV episodes to music (all genres, including popular chart-toppers) and audiobooks. You borrow the items for a period of time, and during that time you get to listen to them or watch them on your computer any time you want, as much as you want. If you’re planning on watching your movies/TV on a computer, you’ll need to install the Widevine plugin in your browser, as the service uses it to stream the content. You can also install the hoopla app on your mobile device and save your content for offline viewing/listening, so you can take your content with you wherever you go during your lending period. That means you can check out a movie, save it on your iPad and watch it on the plane or on your road trip!

For more details, check out our FAQ page.

Changes to the OverDrive Media Console App

OverDrive Account Screenshot

OverDrive Account splash screen on Android

In mid-April, OverDrive released the latest update to their OverDrive Media Console App for iPad/iPhone and Android. The new version includes a stronger integration of the “OverDrive Account” feature, something that hasn’t been pushed heavily by the app before. Regular users of the app might be surprised to be asked to “sign in” the first time they open the app after installing the update, and that’s because the “sign-in” process is not connected to any library account you’ve created before. An “OverDrive Account” is separate from your Library account (you sign up using an email address and new password) and is designed to allow users to sync their reading progress across several devices. The sign-up has actually been available for over a year now, but has remained hidden as a option in the Settings menu that most people chose to ignore, unless they were specifically looking for ways to read titles on more than one device.

OverDrive Account Screenshot

OverDrive Account splash screen on an iPhone

Now, the app has been modified to put the account sign up on the splash screen, making it look like a required step. It’s not; you can skip it and never be asked to sign up again, just by tapping the “Do this later” option that appears under the Sign in /Sign Up buttons on the splash screen. If you do want to sign up for the OverDrive Account, though, tap the Sign up button and you’ll be taken to a page where you can enter your email address and a new password, which will be stored on the OverDrive cloud server and will allow your reading progress to be updated on all the devices that you use to read your books. That means that if you have an iPad and an iPhone both running OverDrive, you can start reading on the larger screen at breakfast, then leave for work and pick up where you left off reading while you’re riding the bus. Signing in to your OverDrive Account on a new device will also take care of the “Adobe ID” authorization on the new device, as that info is stored in your cloud account. If there are questions or issues, please send them to us as we’re always happy to offer help/troubleshooting tips. Happy eReading! – Sophie

Doing the Derby

Last Friday morning I arrived at work at Millennium Library bruised, sweaty, exhausted, but, overall, riding high on endorphins. I’d been up since five a.m. with a bunch of other members of the Winnipeg Roller Derby League, drilling and skating in a mock scrimmage for a live morning TV broadcast. Despite the early hour, and the fact that we’d all been at another two-hour practice less than 12 hours before, we were a pretty chipper, boisterous group, mostly because we were all doing what we love: hitting, sweating, and living roller derby.

whipit Modern roller derby is quite different from the staged “sports entertainment” shows on TV in the 80s and 90s, with stars like Gwen Skinny Minnie Miller, plenty of over-the-top action and WWE-like pre-scripted outcomes. Modern roller derby is grassroots; it’s still full-contact, and the larger-than-life characters and edgy player names still dominate, but it’s low-budget, run by the players, and above all, it’s a real sport. The hits are real, but if you take someone down illegally, you’re going to the penalty box.

If you’re interested in exploring this burgeoning sport, check out a few of the resources available on our library shelves:

Derby Girl (book) and Whip It (movie) by Shauna Cross

Basically a running-away-to-join-the-circus story; a young teen stuck in small-town Texas finds kinship and acceptance among the bold, tattooed personalities in the roller derby league in nearby Austin. A lot of people first heard about modern roller derby in the Ellen Page/Drew Barrymore movie Whip It, the screenplay for which Cross wrote around the same time she penned Derby Girl (later retitled Whip It to match the movie). Cross brought true-to-life experience to the page, having skated under the name Maggie Mayhem for the LA Derby Dolls.  There may be some Hollywood-style liberties taken in the movie but, pretty much every derby girl who sees it agrees, they got the part about kinship and sisterhood just right. When you join a roller derby league, you join a family.

Talking Derby: Stories From a Life on Eight Wheels by Kate “Pain Eyre” Hargreaves

A series of short vignettes and day-in-the-life-of moments from Pain Eyre’s life on the derby track with the Border City Brawlers in Windsor, ON. Most of the stories are short, terse and whip-sharp — just like derby!

Down and Derby: The Insider’s Guide to Roller Derby by Alex “Axles of Evil” Cohen and Jennifer “Kasey Bomber” Barbee

If you’re looking for a less anecdotal, and more factual, run-down of the derby world, check out this insider’s guide. Both authors skated with the LA Derby Dolls & worked on training Hollywood actresses for Whip It. Some of the rules might be a bit out of date, given that the WFDTA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) rules recently underwent a major overhaul, but the basics still hold true.

And finally, if you’re looking for something a bit fun, we’ve also got Joelle Charbonneau’s Skating On the Edge. It’s the third volume in a series of mysteries featuring small-town roller rink owner Rebecca Robbins. In this volume, Robbins asks derby girl Sherlene-n-Mean to fill in for her in the dunk tank at the local fair, but Sherlene ends up electrocuted. You better believe they figure out whodunit, because there’s one thing that’s certain: if you take out a derby girl, her teammates will be coming for you. See you on the track!

Sophie “The Scufflepuff”

Get ready for Folk Fest! Winnipeg Folk Festival holdings at WPL

If you’re  heading out to the 40th Winnipeg Folk Festival this weekend you’re not alone – there should be about 10,000 people right behind you heading to Birds Hill Provincial Park (although quite a few of them will be up there already getting their feet dirty in the campground).


Each year when Folk Fest rolls around we try to make sure we’ve got good artist representation in our libraries so that it’s possible for everyone to bring the festival home with them. And I have to say, this year’s list of holdings is pretty impressive! If you want the WHOLE LIST, we’ve got that for you – we’ve made a special catalogue collection called Winnipeg Folk Festival Performers – 2013 to make it easy to browse the artists in one-shot.


Winnipeg Folk Festival Performers – 2013 – Complete List



Have fun at the festival!


New in Online eBooks: Disney Digital Books

One of the most common questions at our Children’s service desks is, “do you have any Disney books available?” Unfortunately, far too often the answer is no, there aren’t any, because they’re very popular and get checked out as soon as they’ve been returned… either that or they’re in paperback form and have started to fall apart due to too many *enthusiastic* readings.

Well, now there’s an option for anyone who goes home empty-handed: Disney Digital Books! This newest addition to our OverDrive eBooks service lets you check out Disney Digital Books from home and read them right there on your computer. Because the Disney books are browser-based, they can be enjoyed on a Windows or Mac computer, with no software or book downloads required.

A Disney Digital Book in action.

A Disney Digital Book in action.

Each book offers interactive features to enhance the user experience such as a ‘magic pen’ that pronounces words with just one click, trivia questions, and the ability to look up word definitions. Users will recognize familiar Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Disney Princesses, Hanna Montana, and more.

One thing to keep in mind when checking out Disney Digital Books is that because they’re part of our OverDrive collection, you can only have 10 titles out at any given time, assuming you do not also have other OverDrive materials out on the same card. Remember, though, everyone in your family is eligible to get their own Winnipeg Public Library card – even the kids! And if you regularly check out downloadable eBooks from OverDrive for your eReader or mobile app, you’ll want to note that the Disney Digital Books can’t be returned early – if you check them out for 21 days, they’ll be on your account for 21 days. You can set your personal default lending period by going to Account and choosing “Settings” (you can set the default lending period here for ANY of your favorite OverDrive formats – and they can all be different!).

There are over 600 Disney Digital Books to choose from, so check some out today!


Tech Tips: New eReader Visual Guides for the OverDrive App

With recent Black Friday deals and prices dropping all across the board, we’re gearing up for a massive eReader holiday season here at WPL. Anytime folks start unwrapping new eReading toys with glee, we (happily) brace for an onslaught of “hey, wait, how do I get Library eBooks onto this thing??” questions. We love that people have started to think of the library first when they think of eBooks, but it’s difficult answering everyone’s questions in a timely manner, especially when libraries are all closed on the most common eReader unwrapping days.

One of our strategies this year is to develop visual guides to walk you through the process. We’ve uploaded our first slideshow to our Flickr page, and embedded it on our eBooks & eAudiobooks Subject Guide. It’s a walkthrough of the OverDrive App (used for downloading eBooks and Audiobooks from eLibraries Manitoba) on an Android Tablet. Guides for the app on both iPad and BlackBerry PlayBook will be coming very soon.


Also, on a related note, if you’re planning to give an eReader as a gift this holiday season, think about printing off a copy of this eReader Gift Enclosure flyer (you can also pick up a copy in any branch) and including it with the gift to let your loved one know about all the free eBook downloads available through the Winnipeg Public Library site.

Happy eReading Holidays!


Tech Tips updates!

There’s so much going on in the world of libraries and technology at the moment that we found it difficult to pick just ONE THING to write about in this month’s edition of Tech Tips. Instead, we’re going to cover it all! Here are our top five recent tech announcements:

We have an app for that!

WPL to Go: home page

First, a reminder that Winnipeg Public Library now has an app for your smartphones and tablets! It’s called WPL to Go, and it should help you quickly access your Library account, place requests, check for items ready for pickup, and keep in touch with programs and events at the library. We recently featured the app’s main features in more detail on our teen site, Booked, so rather than re-create the wheel, look for our Top Five App Features our blog post there!

New eReaders from Chapters & Kobo

Just in time for the holiday season rush, Kobo Books has released three new eReader models – the Kobo Mini (the tiniest eReader we’ve ever seen!), the Kobo Glo (glows in the dark) and the Kobo Arc, which is an tablet running on the latest Android operating system. We expect to see lots of these popping up at our eBooks Show & Tell classes!

Kindle fire & Aldiko

Aldiko eReader app

Someone pointed out to us recently that the free Aldiko eBook reader app is available for the Kindle Fire tablet. We’re pretty sure this is exciting news because as outlined in this previous Tech Tips blog post, the Aldiko app allows you to borrow and read eBooks from the eLibraries Manitoba catalogue. Everything else we’ve ever heard about the Kindle Fire indicated that eLM books would NOT be accessible on the Fire, because the OverDrive app for Android tablets is not available in the Amazon store. Users who install Aldiko on their Fire device SHOULD* be able to use the instructions above to power-up library eBooks on their device (*we say should because we don’t have a Kindle Fire on hand to test this theory – if you’ve got one or know someone who does and would be willing to test this theory for us, please email us!)

More ebook selection – coming soon!

Freading eBooks – coming soon!

WPL patrons can’t get enough of our eBooks – they’re so popular that we’re adding a SECOND catalogue of 15,000 eBooks to browse through! Starting November 1st, WPL eBook patrons will be able to download and read titles from the Freading eBook library. Freading is brought to you by the same company that runs Freegal, the Library’s music download service, and runs on an unlimited borrowers/always available model, which should help alleviate stress among eBook borrowers who say “there’s never anything available!!” (Of course, we argue that with 15,000 eBook titles (and counting) in the eLM catalogue, it’s IMPOSSIBLE that that statement is ever true. But we’re happy to offer this new service, regardless!)

library Apps on the Blackberry playbook

There have been some questions recently about the library’s apps and whether they work on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The library has three apps that we offer to users: our WPL to GO app, mentioned above, the OverDrive app, which users download from eLM to power-up eBooks on their phones and tablets, and the Freading app for the soon-to-launch eBooks platform. Unfortunately, our tests show that of those three, only the OverDrive app is available for the PlayBook; the others are not. Here’s the breakdown:

  • OverDrive is listed in the PlayBook’s AppWorld store, and can be easily downloaded over wifi on that device. Need more details? Just follow these instructions.
  • The WPL to Go app has not yet been formatted for the PlayBook, so it doesn’t appear in the AppWorld store (the app IS formatted for BlackBerry phones, though – just go to winnipeg.boopsie.com to download). You can get a version of the app on your PlayBook, though, just by going to winnipeg.boopsie.com/m and bookmarking that page. This web version of the app has all the functionality of the full, installed app except for the BookLook scan (it can’t operate the camera). Here’s how the process looks on your screen:

Tap the white plus star icon and choose “Add to Home Screen”

You’ll be given the option to name the bookmarked page… we suggest renaming it WPL to GO because it fits best under the bookmarked picture

You should then be able to bring up your home screen app menu and find WPL to Go down at the end of the list

  • Finally, the Freading app does not appear to be available for the PlayBook at this time; we are in communication with the vendors about when it will be made available; you can be sure we’ll announce it here as soon as it is!

That’s it for this “updates” edition of Tech Tips! Please let us know if you have any questions about these or other library related tech issues that we could address in future posts!


Sunny new Millennium Library park, open and waiting!

Back in 2009 and 2010, staff at Millennium Library had a different name for the summer months: we jokingly called it “Jackhammer season.” The laborious deconstruction of the 37-year old Centennial Library park necessitated a couple of years’ worth of *painstakingly* precise jackhammering so that the roof of the underground parkade could be repaired.  We gamely and happily lived with the noise, though, because we knew the end result would be worth it: a shiny new park with improved sightlines, better lighting, imaginative public art installations and multi-season functionality designed to make the park into a community meeting space.

The blue flag irises in the foreground are one of the many water plants that fill our urban wetland

Now, after several years of anticipation, the wait is up! Although some of it is still under construction, large portions of the Millennium Library park are now completed and open to the public. The water feature that runs along the foot of the four-storey window wall was filled with water last week, just a few days after the installation of several truckloads worth of native marsh grasses which, when full-grown, will make our little park into an urban wetland. According to the landscape architects’ planting plan, the water feature will be home to species of softstem bullrush, water arrum, common cattail, yellow pond lily, blue flag iris, needle spike rush, water sedge, and common reed grass. The water feature is aerated by two chrome windmills, which spin (sometimes idly, sometimes madly) in the wind, pushing bubbles up through the tubes that run the length of the pond. If you’re looking for a zen moment, come down and watch the random patterns of bubbles among the reeds – we all agree it’s better than a lava lamp!

Multi-stem Paper Birch saplings, newly planted

The one thing we were all saddest to see go when the old park came down were the stands of mature trees that lined the edges of the space; they provided gorgeous dappled shade on the hottest days and turned wonderful colours in the fall. The first year after their removal was a shock to the system. But trees do have a lifespan, especially trees that are growing on top of an artificial surface like our parkade roof. And now, with the new park nearing completion, the trees have returned (if perhaps slightly smaller in stature)!  Looking at the new saplings that have been planted around the park (specifically, six american elms, three basswoods, nine paper birch and 19 trembling aspen) it’s almost impossible to picture them as full-grown, mature trees. But if you compare the current plantings to photographs of the Centennial Library park around the time it was built, the similarities are amazing! 

Centennial Library Park

The old Centennial Library park, circa opening (1977).

The trees may be small now, but they will grow – it just takes time.  In 30 years, the next generation of library users won’t even remember a time when there weren’t sky-scraping elms dotting the park.

Sod is laid in the grassy ampitheatre area

While the trees, wetlands and sections of prairie grasses/shrubs have all been laid in place, other portions of the park are still under construction. This weekend, workers laid the last of the sod in the grassy areas, finishing off a gorgeous communal picnicking area around the birch trees and also the central oval ampitheatre.

Work continues on the installation of “emptyful”

Work also continues on the base of “emptyful,” the huge public art/lighting installation which now dominates the west side of the park, lit up with mist and colored lights at night and striking a bold outline against the blue sky by day. You can read more about this impressive public art piece in today’s Winnipeg Free Press article.

emptyful at night (image courtesy of @krts on twitter)

And there are of course other areas of the park that have yet to be completed; the park was planned in two stages, the first being what we’re enjoying now, and the second coming at a later date once funding targets are met. The Winnipeg Library Foundation’s project page outlines the vision of the project, and provides links to sites where donations can be made to the park project. One unique way to make a contribution to the park is to donate a piece of the furniture that will eventually dot the landscape; check out the Downtown Biz page for more details on how you can sponsor of the park’s loungers, patio tables or bike racks – you can put your name (or the name of a loved one) on a piece of the new park!

millennium library park

For anyone interested in more details about the park and future developments, you can check out the one-page  Millennium Library Park Master Plan or the much more detailed Millennium Library Park plan from Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram Landscape Architecture, both of which are posted in pdf form for anyone to download. It’s interesting to see the original plan and compare it to changes that have come over time – nothing ever ends up exactly as planned!

For more recent photos of the Millennium Library Park, check out our album on Facebook

Of course, if you do come down for a visit, remember to bring along a hat and some sunscreen! We’ve been spending our lunch hours out in the park, taking in the open sunny spaces, lounging on the benches along the water feature, and the temptation is to spend far too long basking in the sun, which can be dangerous if you don’t have proper protection!

If you’re interested in park design or learning more about how public spaces are designed and used, check out some of these books that we have available in our collections:

The death and life of great American cities / Jane Jacobs; with a new introduction by Jason Epstein and a foreword by the author. A classic of the genre, updated for its 50th anniversary.

Life between buildings: using public space / Jan Gehl ; translated by Jo Koch. “By helping us better understand the larger public life of cities, Life between Buildings can only move us toward more lively and healthy public places.”- Landscape Architecture

Ecocities: rebuilding cities in balance with nature / Richard Register. “Ecocities is about re-building cities and towns based on ecological principles for the long term sustainability, cultural vitality and health of the Earth’s biosphere. Unique in the literature is the book’s insight that the form of the city really matters — and that it is within our ability to change it”

Sustainable landscaping for dummies / by Owen E. Dell. “…hands-on, how-to instruction for realizing the benefits of a sustainable landscape, from selecting sutainable hardscape materials to installing a rain-water catchment system to choosing native plants”

The Granite Garden

The granite garden: urban nature and human design / Anne Whiston Spirn. Another classic edition. “…proves how important it is to understand the natural settings of cities—their air, water, geology, plant, and animal life—to create better, more habitable urban environments.”

Chicago’s urban nature: a guide to the city’s architecture + landscape / Sally A. Kitt Chappell. “At the heart of this new urban concept is the idea of connection, bringing buildings and landscapes, culture and nature, commerce and leisure into an energetic harmony. With Chicago’s Urban Nature in hand, you’ll see those connections woven through the fabric of the city.”