I’ve been thinking all day on how I can describe the new Idea Exchange in the Old Post Office and I just kept coming back to the same thing – this new Idea Exchange is just going to be so much… more.
When the invitation came in to join the mayor and a few other dignitaries to check out the Old Post Office before it was open to the general public, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been interested in this project from day one. I attended the meeting where the original plans were unveiled to city council. I live tweeted the event so that all of our followers could know what was happening and I talked about it with anyone who would listen for months afterwards. I talked about it so much that the library asked me to be in a promotional video for the library. It’s true.
A Very Bright First Impression
Walking in to the building the first thing that will hit you is how bright the space is. White walls, lots of windows, skylights and just natural light filters onto every floor and into every space. It’s almost magical. Even the basement, has lots of natural light. The architects have done an amazing job of raising the first floor up for windows on the front of the building to shine in, and for allowing the light from the glassed in enclosure to shine down below. The brightness was nearly unrecognizable to me from my last visit there in the 90s.
They have restored as many features as they could from the original hand rails, to the stone facade to the clock and bell tower. Having spent some time walking up and down the stairs in between dancing and laughing with friends in the 90s, it was like walking down memory lane even though the once dark stairwell is nice and bright.
The Basement – Creative Studios
Interested in creating your own podcast? Want to record your own music? You might want to stop into the Old Post Office and visit the basement Creative Studios. Sound proof rooms have been set up that can be booked as easily as it is to book computer space at any of the other Idea Exchange locations. Book your time and head in to create your own memories.
Also on this floor you will find a space that should be really exciting for anyone that wants to make their own music with the music hub. Much like what has been at the Clemens Mill branch, the Hub at the Old Post Office will have a drum kit, guitars and keyboard for people to play music as a group or individually. The open space will allow for creativity and meeting in groups as well and would make a perfect setting for speakers series or small performances.
The First Floor – Reading Room & Cafe
This floor Reading Room is truly where the “Wow” begins. With Monigram running a cafe and having comfortable chairs and tables, it is easy to see yourself stopping and enjoying the view. Walkways connecting the old building to the new glassed in enclosure are open to below and natural glass lets the light shine in making this floor light and area. With no books on this floor other than the ones you bring in yourself, you will be able to read magazines and newspapers, borrow laptops and just take in the amazing scenery of the Grand River and into West Galt.
I know that there has been some controversy about this space more than any other section of this digital library and going through today I could tell there are many finishing touches yet to come. Personally, I came away feeling very positive about what was happening on this floor and look forward to seeing what the finished product is going to look like. And no, I’m not just being positive because Monigram made the most beautiful meat flower for their charcuterie board. The glassed in this area is stunning and once they’ve finished off the details for the older part of the building it will be interesting to see it all come together.
The Second Floor – Discovery Centre
Emily’s attic is almost unrecognizable! Designed mostly with the kids in mind, the Discovery Centre is going to be amazing for programs and activites for the little ones. This floor will be the only one to house books for kids, but will really help kids use science and technology and play to create and learn new things. Children of all ages will enjoy the massive lego wall and Lite-Brite wall in between creating and playing with STEAM activities. (In case you aren’t familiar with the term STEAM, it essentially means that people are going to get more hands on with their learning and use Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.) Having a child I know how important it is for Cambridge to get additional space for library programs. They often book out within a day of registration opening, and I can see this new space being a fantastic location for more programs and even more activities.
Your eyes will move past the white walls of the third floor outside in all directions as the views from this floor are spectacular. The architects realized this and built in a space perfect for taking photos of the downtown riverscape. Walk outside and enjoy the view of the green roof complete with native plants along downtown Galt’s many churches and historic buildings. It’s just magic. Pure magic.
The Third Floor – Makerspace
Cambridge has been needing a Makerspace for a really long time. People in Cambridge have needed this without even realizing it. Want to have something printed using a 3D printer? The Idea Exchange can do that. Want to create something, or fix something but don’t have the tools? You do now!
Honestly, this is going to be an amazing space and this floor is my favourite one of them all architecturally. Amazing beams, phenomenal views and awesome things to see and do. You can view inside the clock tower, you can see and touch the old chimney and there is even a “meeting room” which will be amazing for small workshops.
The Old Post Office Party
So when can you come see the new Idea Exchange location for yourself? If you haven’t already booked a private tour of the facility, you can always stop by for the Old Post Office Party on Friday July 6, 2018. On top of opening the doors to the general public, the City of Cambridge is closing down the parking lot across the street and will have food vendors, live music including The Reklaws, activities for all ages and an amazing projection light show onto the walls of the library building. Running from 6-10pm, downtown and the Old Post Office will definitely be the place to be.
All in all, I feel that this space has so much for everyone. A destination. A place to go, to learn and to grow. A place I am proud to say is in my community.