Hazel McCallion Central Library reopens after almost three years of renos, COVID

Feb 14, 2024 | Culture, Life

The Hazel McCallion Central Library reopened after almost three years of renovations and pandemic closures.

Renamed in February 2021 to celebrate the late Hurricane Hazel’s 100th birthday and who served as the city’s mayor for 36 years, the library at 301 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W., first opened on Sept. 21, 1991, and has been a staple in Mississauga for 40-plus years.

Laura Reed, manager of the Central Library and Community Development, said it’s important to have McCallion’s name on the library and the importance of the signage.

Lights that are spiralling down the center in between multiple floors

A top-down view of "Light Fall" from the fourth floor.

“The library was renamed in conjunction with Hazel’s 100th birthday as a way for the city to honour that momentous milestone,” she said.

Reed said adding substantial signage on the building was among her top priorities “because the building wasn’t well labelled and you could walk around the outside and not know what it was.”

The library underwent $49 million in renovations and presents a new, more modern look, with bright white glossy walls and a new interior design.

Visitors are greeted with a newly added art installation that hangs from the ceiling called Light Fall as they enter the library from either Celebration Square or Living Arts Drive.

There are two installations of Light Fall, by Nathan Witford of Urbanvisual, in the foyer and one in the centre area of the library.

“When you think about words, like enlightenment and illumination, those words can be easily tied to education and transfers of knowledge,” Whitford said.

He said the artwork is a waterfall of light that signifies that transfer from the library to the end user.

Whitford said he didn’t initially admire the light work until last fall as the days became shorter.

“We installed it in the summertime, and it never was really dark when we were there. It wasn’t until late October that I went back,” Whitford said. “It was one of those days. It was later, and I was there late in the afternoon, and I got a chance to stay after dark, and I was like, ‘Oh wow, this is really incredible.’”

He said the light hitting the many reflective surfaces in the library added an unexpected beauty to the work that may become its legacy.

“I think it’s going to be a real identity piece for the library, and that’s exciting because I don’t think it was intended to be that,” Whitford said.

The installation hangs down from the ceiling and passes by all four floors and into the basement, where the tip of the installation almost touches The Stage, which houses the many creative suites called The Makers Space in the basement.

three people sitting in chairs playing video games

People playing video games in the Hazel McCallion library in Mississauga.

The area houses music studios, computers with creative software and photo studios. Behind them are several 3D printers.

Reed said the creative areas were among the first changes designers and staff urged to add to the facility.

“So we have a team of staff focused on the Makers Space offering a wide range of different services,” she said.

There is a medium-sized photo studio with lights and backdrops available for photographic work. Next to it are two small music studios with a computer, small instruments and speakers.

Children’s books are on the first floor on swirling shelves for easy access for children. There are also play areas supervised by staff.

The second floor houses the fiction section, including comics and fantasy novels. Towards the back, newly installed work booths are by the Game Room.

Non-fiction books are on the third floor, along with workspaces and a history of Mississauga booth.

The fourth floor houses computer workspaces along with an area for cooking classes.

Mississauga resident Elyssa Caitlin Becz said despite all the changes, the building still feels like a library.

“It seems a little empty, less lively as it was when the old place was here, but there are a lot of cool facilities here,” she said. “The Game Room is my favourite but the quiet area on the fourth floor is pretty nice too.

“It’s very quiet, basically how you expect a library to be,” Becz said.