We Grow Great Libraries in Canada

Last year I had read somewhere that in the United Kingdom, public libraries were taking a beating. With access to the Internet and ebooks, apparently the number of people using libraries was down. The government began to rethink the need for libraries and many were slated to close.

When I read this, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to search the webpage to see if this indeed was current news. It was. Not only were libraries being reduced in number, the government defended the closures by saying the public wasn’t interested in the old system any longer and preferred to learn and find information from the Internet. On top of that, fewer libraries meant tax payers would save millions.

A more recent article on the hardships of libraries in the United Kingdom is found on The Book Seller website. It explains the Bexley library is going to start charging membership fees when a charity organisation takes control in the spring.

Stop…I know this sounds insane, but it’s true.

It’s as though the United Kingdom is turning back the clock 120 years to when the affluent members of society had access to books and the poor illiterates weren’t expected to read.

But times have changed and libraries are now a life line for many who can’t afford to own a computer or have Internet access. Many government services are available only on the web. Often times, it’s the individuals who can’t afford computers and the Internet who need these services the most.

Charging individuals to use libraries alienates people who cannot afford or choose not to own computers.

Personally, I can’t believe this sort of thing would happen in Canada. Our libraries in Nova Scotia are growing, expanding and offering more services than ever before. They host book launches, preschool story time, art classes, genealogy classes, computer courses and the list continues to grow. Why are our libraries becoming success stories while the UK libraries are floundering?

I wonder if the citizens of the UK saw this coming ten or twenty years ago. If they didn’t, would we?

What do you think? Do you value your library? Do you even know where it is?

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5 thoughts on “We Grow Great Libraries in Canada

  1. I don’t like the sound of that at all. While I can’t just pop into the library (I’m 50 minutes away) I have used our bookmobile service for many years. It was great when the kids were small, all those books and an entire month to read them.

    Last summer when my husband and I went to see Margaret Atwood, a good portion of that money went to the South Shore Library. They are building a new library and I’m so excited. Margaret Atwood is a great supporter of libraries and I think that is wonderful. We would never want anything similar to what is happening in the United Kingdom to happen in Canada.

  2. A world without libraries is a scary prospect. Can you imagine the historical accounts that will be lost if the United Kingdom continues on this road!

    The library is not just a room filled with books, it’s an experience. it’s the smell of fresh ink on crisp, virgin paper competing with the musty scent of tattered and yellowed pages. It’s a place to lovingly draw your fingertips across spine after spine of treasured stories, wondering what world lays waiting for you inside the covers.

    As much as I love the internet, it will never give me that feeling. Let’s hope our Canadian politicians don’t read what you read, Diana.

    • Cheryl, like you, I love the Internet, and it will never replace the library. There’s nothing like being in a room filled with books. I can hardly wait until the day I can dedicate a room to my books.

  3. Diane, I’m as shocked as you are.When I go to libraries in Halifax and Truro, I carry multiple library cards, they are usually full of people of all ages. Now I admit, I’m from that age group that likes to have a hard copy of books and newspapers, but there are still plenty of young people in our libraries. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the price of books. As they get more expensive, and even you weren’t aware that the prices were creeping up, it leaves the library as the main choice for a lot of devoted readers. Let’s hope our government don’t see the British idea as a good way to cut costs. It isn’t.

    • I agee, Art. This is one cost-saving idea we must keep from the government, and if they ever hint at this, we must all stand up and protest. Like you, I’ve seen people of all ages visit the library. They are more popular than ever.

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