Ingenium’s new Library and Archives now open to the public

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Ingenium’s brand-new Library and Archives space is now open to the public every Wednesday and Friday.

As an archivist for Ingenium, I have to say that this beautiful, new space is the best Christmas gift I could have asked for! Located within the Ingenium Centre at 1865 St. Laurent Blvd. in Ottawa, the Library and Archives is spacious, modern, and filled with natural light.

Looking back on the move

So how did we pack our Library and Archives? With a little help and a whole lot of care.

The library and archival collections of the Canada Science and Technology Museum and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum were moved from their old home at 2380 Lancaster Road in Ottawa to the new Ingenium Centre, between August 2019 and January 2020. From the old building, it’s a short walk through the Canada Science and Technology Museum’s Technology Park to the new building. However, the short distance didn’t necessarily mean a simpler move.

With our professional movers and advice from our Conservation team, we moved about 4,500 linear feet of archival records, 1,400 linear feet of corporate records, 5,000 linear feet of periodicals and monographs, 80 linear feet of rare books, 2,120 linear feet of trade literature, 58,000 drawings, and other materials stored in flat storage cabinets.

In February 2019, I wrote about the early behind-the-scenes work. At that time, we had just begun wrapping some larger ledgers and record books, and were putting more fragile rare books into boxes or protectors. By scrolling through the images in the gallery below, you’ll see the packing, the old empty space, as well as the rehoused material on its new shelves. I think it looks like nicely tied presents of archival joy or library bliss!

In the Archives, we attempted a macro reorganization of our holdings space, mapping our collections to areas in the new building first intellectually, and then physically. Colleagues from other institutions that had been through moves warned us against being too ambitious in any attempts to reorganize the holdings. Their advice was to move first, then reorganize. A move is not the time to fix every logical collections organization problem.

We took their sage advice and did manage to bring together our holdings, at least by major subject groupings (archives related to Transportation or Agriculture, for example). We also managed to bring some of our larger collections together on the new shelves. In the old space, they had been spread out due to the limited availability of empty shelves when they were acquired. At different stages of this mapping, we worked in our location management database, and then got more physical, putting a colour sticker on the boxes (a trick we learned from this Archives Association of Ontario resource video). Our movers had their own systems, so our boxes look a little like a patchwork quilt.

Technical drawings, maps, and posters (stored flat or in compact rolls) required special handling. We puzzled our way through the mapping of existing cabinets to new cabinets, where we had drawers of different dimensions.

We continue to adjust to the new space. However, our public reference services have resumed and we are waiting for readers to fill our beautiful, new reading room. A big thanks to our patrons, researchers, and colleagues for their ongoing patience while we settle in. I’d love to show you around when you visit next!

New tables in the Ingenium Centre library reading room in the sunlight
Ingenium Centre Library reading room are ready and waiting for researchers.
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Adele Torrance

 Adele Torrance is the Archivist at Ingenium - Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation.