By Globe and Mail
Public library buildings are safe shelters and economic drivers that quietly operate within every community. They live in the bricks-and-mortar space as well as the virtual, assisting patrons with such life basics as finding employment, starting their own businesses and teaching their kids to read.
During the pandemic, libraries had to close their buildings to the general book-reading public, but facilities were used in different ways, for example, as food bank distribution centres and emergency computer labs for low-income groups. In recent weeks, they have slowly started to reopen, with a renewed understanding of the unique and essential role libraries play within the physical community.
According to Mary Rowe, president and chief executive of the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI), the uncertain times brought into focus the new reality that the library is another kind of frontline commons.
“In a contemporary city, the built environment consists of various kinds of facilities that function as anchors,” she says, “and during this pandemic that’s become clear.”