The New York Times recently published an article ‘Where Libraries are the Tourist Attraction.’ I read it, coincidentally, while in Montreal, Quebec, on my way to The Grande Bibliothèque. This public space of 33,000 square metres is in the heart of Montreal. The library boasts over 1300 armchairs, 850 study seats and 350 computer stations. I was in heaven.
We spent some time in the basement in the children’s library. My girls had a good time snuggling themselves into a nook and reading stories in French. I left them happy with their books and went on to explore the rest of the library.
The top floor was a spectacular collection of music with over 44 audio stations. The library also boasts 50 video stations, as well as multimedia computer terminals with two music rooms to compose electronic music. If I had more time, I would have spent a lot of time up there.
The spaces in between floors were filled with armchairs, study seats, and computer stations. People were actively utilizing the space offered to read, research, and work. This contemporary building offered a feeling of belonging and welcome. Public libraries have a tendency to do that.
Libraries have come such a long way from their original focus of book lending. As the writer stated “libraries are supplying the public with other features they may not have at home. Twenty years ago that was books. Now it’s expensive new technology like 3D printers, laser cutters and broadcasting studios for podcasts and movies. Visitors are going to libraries to try before they buy. Other people just want to play with something that may not ever be able to afford.”
My experience in Montreal echoed this, as does my experience in the Lower Mainland. In a recent blog, Try New Hobbies at the Library, I shared a number of fun and good things that patrons of the library are able to try, free with their library card; from Bird-watching backpacks, to borrowing telescopes. This was followed by my recent blog – Trying New Technology at Your Public Library where I shared that you can borrow VR headsets, laptops, Spheros, Ozbots, and more.
It doesn’t stop here. Here are a few additional features that you might be surprised to learn about, including:
- The City of North Vancouver partners with the North Vancouver City Library to offer Movies in the Plaza which brings hundreds of families into Civic Plaza to enjoy outdoor summer movies and an evening of free family fun. The movies are shown on a big screen at sunset, outdoors.
- The Vancouver Public Library recently opened a rooftop garden offering views of the city skyline. This natural meeting place offers you a chance to connect with friends, or simply a respite from your busy day.
- The Surrey Libraries offers resources and programs for job searchers, career changers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. Their Job and Business section of their website will provide you with more details.
If you’ve not been a tourist of your own library for a while, there is no better time than the present. You will be delighted to find what’s in store for you. And, if you find yourself in another city, take a moment to exit the busyness of exploring and take a rest in the refuge of another’s public library. You won’t regret it.