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Long live public libraries

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There's an encouraging piece in yesterday's Vancouver Sun about the vitality of Canada's public libraries. According to the story, "business is booming" at major public libraries north of the border. The piece in the Sun credits "everything from the high price of buying books to social networking, vampires [ie, Stephenie Meyers] and a new social acceptance for frothy best-sellers."

I can't offer any first-hand commentary on the English-language libraries there, but my husband and I were awed once a few years ago when we wandered into Montreal's sleekly modern Grand Bibliotheque (apparently the largest French-language collection in North America) on a Sunday.

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The place was crawling with families with toddlers, twenty-somethings, couples – humanity in various shapes and forms, all engaged in library activities. We didn't stick around long enough to learn the nature of the programs being offered that day, but it was clear that whatever that library was doing, it was of interest to the community.

When it comes to books there is plenty of gloom and doom these days. It's nice to occasionally investigate the places and times (and I have to think that there are still quite a few of them) when things go right.


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