Written By: Michelle Sosa

Edited By: Adina Vega

Have you ever found yourself wanting to be in two places at once? If so, this library is the perfect place for you! The Haskell Free Library and Opera House is extremely unique due to its location right in the middle of the international border between Canada and the United States. In fact, the border is marked by a thick black line taped on the floor inside the building. The Haskell Free Library and Opera House was founded in 1901 in response to the needs of the community housed on both sides of the border. The building was designed by architects James Ball and Gilbert H. Smith. All of the resources and services provided by the library are available in English and French, which includes visual and performing arts.

Image of the library’s interior with the black line that exhibits the international border

Library cards are available to anyone within a 30-mile radius of the location; the library provides various services, including a free-of-charge mobile service that delivers library items to patrons who cannot enter the library due to COVID-19 or other medical conditions. The library provides free wireless access, online databases, museum and attraction passes, etc. They even have a bilingual book club that is offered in both English and French! Furthermore, the library’s catalog is very user-friendly and even offers interlibrary loans–the platform can be accessed in English and French. The library houses a collection of more than 20,000 books in both English and French.

The opera house is on the second floor of the building. It contains 400 seats and offers music, dance, and theatre performances in English and French. The opera house’s website has a calendar detailing upcoming events. You can also take a guided tour of the opera house and the library.

Image of Opera House interior

Overall, this library is exceptionally unique. In addition to the key characteristic of being built directly on the international border, some other defining features of the building are its Queen Anne revival style paired with Renaissance revival features. The Haskell Opera House resembles the Boston Opera House’s functional design and layout. The heritage value of the library and opera house lies not only in the design of the building but also in its symbolism of community and goodwill. In this place, people from two different countries can come together.

You can learn more about the Haskell Free Library and Opera House by visiting their website: https://www.haskelloperahouse.org/

Categories: iSchool SLA


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