The Reading Garden

at Wood Library

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” — Cicero

It’s a beautiful day.  The sun peeks through the trees and warms your face. From your perch on a bench, you’re surrounded by native plants. Your book is open on your lap. You sip a cup of tea as you watch butterflies flutter from flower to flower, gathering pollen as they go. You link your tablet to the library WiFi and wait for a friend to join you for Tai Chi class, with a plan to walk downtown for lunch when you’re finished. You haven’t felt this relaxed in weeks!

This is just one vision for The Reading Garden at Wood Library – a new outdoor community space that everyone can enjoy.

With support from community members — and an award-winning design by Bergmann PC — a currently underused area of the library property will be transformed into a beautiful, inviting place for patrons to read, study or work, gather in small groups, or play quietly.  The approximately 2,000 square foot garden will include a columned entrance that mimics the architecture of the library’s historic building, a pergola, a reading theater, a reading garden, a rain garden, a Native American garden, and shade and pollinator gardens.

Donate to The Reading Garden!

The garden is designed for outdoor educational programs.  The librarians will use the space for storytimes, tai chi classes, book discussions, gardening classes, and creative writing classes, among other activities. The use of indigenous plants and pollinators, a rain garden, and Native American interpretative garden will provide ample opportunities for individual and group exploration of these concepts.  We have met with local partners such as Ganondagan State Historic Site, the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, and the Finger Lakes Beekeepers Association to discuss future programs and develop appropriate educational signage for the space.

See naming opportunities here.

This exciting project supports the library’s mission and fulfills a strategic goal to establish new, sustainable, outdoor classrooms and gathering spaces that foster community connections beyond our walls.  We are especially pleased to make the garden available to our neighbors who live at Thompson Apartments and Wilcox Lane next door.  They will be able to use the garden to enjoy nature, participate in programs, and make new friends.  We anticipate that the garden will also become a gathering spot for children and teachers from nearby childcare centers, the Canandaigua Primary and Elementary schools, and homeschool groups.

Visitors to the garden will be able to access the library’s free WiFi.  The pathways will be graded and designed to accommodate strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs.  The garden will be illuminated with dark-sky compliant lighting and monitored by security cameras.

A groundbreaking celebration is planned for September 7, 2023.  All are welcome to attend!

Construction will start this fall.  Site preparation, the installation of utilities and wireless access points, lighting, fencing, the pergola structures, and a new entrance from the Children’s Library will be the early work.  We anticipate the project to be completed by the end of June 2024, following the installation of plant materials, signage, and furniture next spring.  Fundraising is expected to wrap up by the end of this year.  We expect to open the garden for public use during the summer of 2024.

As of August 1, we have raised $659,245 for this project including a grant of $173,059 from the New York State Library Construction Program.  We are accepting donations to fully fund the $691,578 project.  Pledges are accepted, with payments due in June 2024.  Any donations received above and beyond the fundraising goal will be used for annual maintenance of the garden. 

Help us make this vision a reality by making a gift or pledge to The Reading Garden at Wood Library today, and sharing our story and need with others!

Or, download a paper copy of the pledge and donation form, and mail it to Wood Library, 134 N Main St, Canandaigua, NY  14424:  Pledge Form Reading Garden

View the architectural design concept:  Wood-Library-Reading-Garden-Curved-Theatre-Concept-Plan-5.26.21

Watch our promotional video created by Mitch Steedman Media!

When will work start on The Reading Garden at Wood Library?

Donations and pledges as of 20Jun2023


Groundbreaking celebration on September 7, 2023!