I've been hearing all sorts of doom and gloom stories on the internet lately about how libraries are defunct and should be closed. Of course, not everyone agrees that it's the right thing to do, myself included.
My local branch was closed for over a year. I got by by going to a further branch and trying to wait for my holds all to arrive before going so I wouldn't have to make the trek so often.
Well, I'm happy to report that my local branch has reopened today. Given all the talk about the usefulness of libraries (that everyone's using the internet at home for research and ebooks are cutting the need for paper books, etc.) I expected the place to be pretty empty. I mean, aside from myself, who would be anxiously waiting for the library to open again?
Apparently quite a lot of people. The library was packed. There were adults on the computers, youth in the youth section talking about OSAP and universities and how to pay for school when you can't find a job. The magazine section had lots of comfy chairs and a fake fireplace, where I sat to browse my findings. I heard students studying at a nearby table and saw parents getting their children books.
And the staff were ecstatic, welcoming everyone back to the library, raving about the renovations and dishing out suggestions for books as well as computers.
As I walked home I realized something. For all the home computers, for all the advances in ebooks, for all the other things that take up our limited spare time, I've never yet been to a library that was empty. We take for granted the free access to computers, books and professional help libraries offer. If we're not careful, someday our descendants won't have that luxury.