Central Branch | Now We Are 50

collage of three images of central library exterior in 1970, central library exterior in 2022, and smiling man holding a metal club standing ready to strike the town bell with a group of library staff in background

"On behalf of the Board and the Staff, we welcome you to your new Central Library, we assure you of our intention to develop it
to its fullest extent, and we urge you and all the citizens of Burlington to come and enjoy it." – Frank Rose, Library Board Chair

On November 15, 1970, with the ringing of the old town bell, the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable Roland Michener declared Central Library officially open, heralding in an exciting new era of library services for Burlington residents.

It was an afternoon of pomp and ceremony befitting the official representative of the Queen in Canada and his wife, and audience of distinguished guests, which was presided by Mayor George Harrington, Library Board Chair Frank Rose, and Chief Librarian Lucille Galloway. The ribbon-cutting event was by invitation only, and was followed by a three-day open house for the general public to get to know their new main branch.

Fast forward 35 years to September 24, 2005, when the same bell ringer, Michael Rose, son of the former Board Chair, reprised his role during the community celebration marking the opening of the expanded and renewed Central branch. And what a party that was—after two years under construction! Mayor Rob MacIsaac, together with Library Board Chair Ron Ness, and City Librarian Wendy Schick hosted the day-long festivities.

Tucked between its first and second openings was one more significant building milestone—the construction of an addition on the branch’s north side to support the needs of a growing library system. Offically opened on May 24, 1975, this section added a third entrance into the building for visitors to the new 50-seat seminar room and the relocated film department.

If These Concrete Walls Could Talk

What a story they would tell! From the first minutes of opening its doors in 1970, through the multi-phased openings and closures in 2003-2005, to today’s adapted COVID-era services, Central has proudly served our community both as a neighbourhood destination and the flagship of a busy and growing library system.

It has been the host location of many thousands of entertaining and educating events, and millions of storytimes for little ones just starting their reading journey.

It has been a quiet space for study, a welcoming space for respite and relaxation, a creative space for making, a loud space for celebrations, a safe space for all questions, and a space where imagination, exploration, and discovery take flight and soar.

If these old walls could talk, they would tell us the story of our community and the generations of local residents who have shaped its purpose. Thank you, Burlington, for your patronage of Central for the past fifty years. We look forward to our next fifty years together!

And since we're celebrating…

We want to extend our most heartfelt best wishes to our great friends and valued partners, present and past, at A Different Drummer Books on the happy occasion of its 50th birthday—also opened on November 15, 1970! Congratulations, to current owner Ian Elliot and former owner Richard Bachmann, and co-founders Al Cummings and John Richardson, on the golden anniversary of your award-winning—and Burlington's foremost—independent bookstore.

“We are honoured here indeed, that Their Excellencies have generously consented to take part on our opening ceremonies today. We are delighted to have been the cause of the first visit a Governor-General has made to the Town of Burlington, which we feel is as much recognition for the Town as it is for the Library.”

“On this particularly auspicious day for our library, I would like to emphasise that the public library is unique among our institutions. It serves all age groups, all education levels.

And it is involved in the cultural activities of the community, in formal education, in self-improvement, and in entertainment. It is a place of freedom, where one can develop one’s personality and interest without curriculum or direction, but with help available if it is needed. As such, the public library should not be governed by special or limited interests, and it should not be the plaything of bureaucrats.”

“On behalf of the Board and the Staff, we welcome you to your new Central Library, we assure you of our intention to develop it to its fullest extent, and we urge you and all the citizens of Burlington to come and enjoy it.”

“A public library must inevitably reflect the cultural climate of the community which it serves.”

“Although the building is an outstanding architectural achievement, it is also a structure which has been designed specifically for library purposes…. [While] providing four times the space we had formerly for our expanding book collection the new building allows us to introduce some of the other media of communication—Educational television, films and sound recordings will now be part of our service.”

“The Boys’ and Girls’ Department has several new attractions which should be popular with our young people. Our story room which is really a continuation of the department, and therefore provides added space for busy times, has the further advantage of visual seclusion when used for story hours, puppet show and other activities. The playroom will allow for scenery construction, painting, puppet making and any undertaking which would be unwise to perform on the carpeted area.”

“On behalf of the library staff, may I express our thanks to all those who helped to make this dreams a reality—the Library Board, the Town Council and all the people of Burlington with special thanks to those groups and individuals who took this project so much to their hearts.”

“I cannot close my remarks without saying to Their Excellencies, Governor General and Mrs. Michener that their presence has transformed our library opening into an historic event.”

Winner of the prestigious Award of Excellence in the Concrete Awards program (for buildings costing less than $1,000,000) presented by the Department of Industry, Trade & Commerce and the National Design Council, 1971



Phillip Brook, B.Arch, MRAIC
Brook-Carruthers-Grierson-Shaw, Toronto

General Contractor | Chilman Construction Ltd

Landscape Architect | Van der Meulen, Zohar & Associates Ltd



Stephen Teeple, BES, B.Arch., M.Sc.B.D., Hon.LL.D., OAA, AAA, AIBC, FRAIC, RCA - Principal, Lead Design Architect
Chris Radigan, BES, B.Arch., MRAIC, Partner
Teeple Architects Inc, Toronto

General Contractor | Strut-Con Construction Ltd

Structural | Smith & Anderson

Mechanical | Kirk Mechanical

Electrical | R. Clairmont & Son

Landscape Consultant | John George Associates

It takes a community to build a library and make it great. We are deeply grateful to the countless community members and library staff who have been part of Central’s history. Among those who rolled up their sleeves, burned the midnight oil, and donated immeasurable hours to create this building for all Burlington residents, we salute the hard-working and dedicated volunteers appointed by Town/City Council to represent the community and steer the direction of the Library. We are indebted to the Trustees who passionately advocated to build and grow this wonderful facility.

Burlington Public Library Board


Frank Rose, Chair
Councillor J.P. Bruce
C.O. Colbert
John Friel
N.W. McGuinness
Allan Rathbone
Councillor John Simpson
James Swanborough
A.G. Ward

Chief Librarian: Lucille Galloway


John Simpson, Chair
M.J. Doyle
C.B. Jackson
Mrs. J Scott
K. Shepherd
B.E. Summers
E. Swanborough
A.G. Ward

Chief Librarian: Lucille Galloway

2001 to 2003

Ron Ness, Chair
Cam Bright, Vice Chair 2002-2003
Julie Bettiol
Paul Cormier
Margaret Hribljan
George McMenemy, Vice Chair 2001
Bob Parry
Deborah Scime
Councillor John Taylor

City Librarian: Wendy Schick

2004 to 2005

Ron Ness, Chair
Greg Anderson
Julie Bettiol, Vice Chair
Councillor John Taylor
Terry Tick
Peter Thoem
Lynn Wiegand

City Librarian: Wendy Schick

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