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.

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3 thoughts on “Canadian public libraries are alive and well

  1. Alive and well in the eyes of many of our users, but getting it done with less and less. Here in Winnipeg, as direct employees of our city government, we’ve just had a brutal offer tabled, or what looks to be a brutal offer. We will see the full… doc on Thursday with a strike authorization vote on Friday – after that it’s up to the City. It’s true that we are needed more than ever right now (see your new immigrant example) but the level of service we are offering is not sustainable in the long term with the resources we have. I am an optimist by nature but am very worried about the long term. Good to see you blogging!

  2. Monique, your point is very well taken (feel free to add a comment to the blogpost). Sustainability is certainly an issue and to what extent are more traditional services under threat to accommodate new ones?

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Canadian public libraries are alive and well | Louise Spiteri -- Topsy.com

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