Canadian public libraries are alive and well

Given the recent events in the U.K. and the U.S. with respect to the closure of public libraries, this article from the Toronto Star about the thriving state of the Toronto Public Library (TPL) is a breath of fresh air. My experience as a frequent user of the Halifax Public Library echoes the sentiments expressed in this article. Whenever I visit my branch library, it is always filled with people of all ages and cultures. The collections appear to circulate actively and freely, if my holds record is anything to go by. There are always activities going on in the branch, from children’s readings and play time, to ESL classes and tutoring. Participation in the public fora with regard to the construction of a new central branch library has been high and representative of all strata of society. My research into some Canadian public library catalogues suggests that the successes of the HPL and TPL systems is paralleled in other parts of the country. The reasons for the continued success of public libraries in Canada are ripe for investigation. The article suggests that one reason for the success of TPL is the system’s outreach to Toronto’s very diverse cultural population and, in particular, to new Canadians. Certainly in HPL, I’ve witnessed a significant increase in the services devoted to celebrating our diverse cultural heritage. Such diversity is certainly not unique to Canada, but perhaps our willingness to embrace and celebrate it – and to reflect this spirit in our public services – is.