Last week I finally checked out the Vancouver Island Regional Library location in Port Hardy and signed up for a library card.
I’ve always loved books but had no real appreciation for libraries.
They are just buildings that store books right?
My perspective was forever changed when I first stepped foot into the Halifax Central Library when it opened its doors in 2015.
I am now passionate about libraries and what they can do for communities.
Halifax may be a bigger place and may be farther away from the North Island than Japan, but visiting the Halifax Central Library was like glimpsing the future of what libraries can offer communities in an increasingly digital age.
Yes, the building may have cost upwards of $57.6 million dollars, doubled its book collection, housed two coffee shops, an out door rooftop patio and garden, a recording studio, an amphitheater and more – but it’s the idea behind it that is important.
Libraries are changing.
There were study rooms where patrons can access peace and quiet, but the rest of the library was noisy and busy with people chatting, kids playing, teenagers hanging out, and even people simply stopping by to grab a coffee and read a magazine before carrying on with their day.
Literally, every time I went to that library, I ran into someone I knew who was also spending their afternoon at the library or just passing through on their way to somewhere else.
That’s because it wasn’t just a room full of books where you must be quiet.
It was a space that people were allowed to be in without having to pay for access. A friend of mine once called it “Halifax’s living room.”
What’s valuable about libraries is they’re not only places that offer access to knowledge, but they are also community spaces that offer an extensive amount of services where no one can be shooed away for not being a paying customer.
While it’s not realistic for every community to get a brand new shiny library full of all the latest and greatest trendy things, it’s important for people to reframe the idea they have in their mind about what libraries are for and what they can be.
Just look at the Regional Libraries in the North Island. Every month the North Island Gazette’s Hot Spots are filled with an ample amount of activities from VIRL from tech help, book clubs, and tons of activities for kids and teens.
Even someone who isn’t inclined to take advantage of those services can hopefully recognize the importance of community spaces like the library.
It impresses me how much they do for the communities in the North Island and it’s obvious that, even in smaller communities, libraries are for so much more than just borrowing books.
– Editorial by Hanna Petersen