After six years in the making, the Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough will open the doors to their new cultural centre and library on Monkland Ave. this January.

The centre’s bold colours and mix of industrial and modern design will leave no one indifferent, though it is a matter of taste, said Mayor Russell Copeman. “People will either love it or think it’s too weird. It’s interesting.” The contemporary design is a complete contrast to the old Benny library, which was housed in a church.

benny libraryBeyond housing books, the airy 4,500 sq. metre Centre Culturel NDG will create 12 new full-time jobs and have a performance space focused on dance, and an exhibition room.

“It began as an issue of libraries, more than anything else,” said Copeman. The idea dates back to 2009, when an internal analysis from the borough found that library services were no up to par, particularly in Western NDG.

The bigger location not only means that Benny Library’s collection will be expanding, but services will be more efficient and accessible for the community. “It’s a much more 21st century view of what the library should be,” said Copeman. There’s also lots of natural light and reading space for residents to enjoy the library comfortably.

benny libraryTablets will be available to borrow, and workshops for children and teenagers will emphasize technology. Though programming has not yet been set, the borough is working with the “Friends of the Benny Library” organisation to make sure it responds to the needs of the community.

With plans for the new library underway, the borough quickly began to discuss the notion of a cultural centre. The dance space, named for the late Montreal dancer, Iro Valaskakis Tembeck, was a special addition as the borough found a need for that kind of performance space not only in NDG, but all of Montreal.

“You don’t think about it a great deal, but if you’re talking about dance you need more square footage than the typical stage,” the mayor explained.

The stage is not raised and is deeper than the typical auditorium, two key features of a good dance space, Copeman learned when he visited the centre in late November.
The performance space, that seats 200, can still be used for music or theatre performances, and will be available for rentals.

The Benny Library closed on Nov. 21. The Centre Culturel NDG, 6400 Monkland Ave., will be open to the public in Jan. 2016.