City Approves Yesterday’s Technology


The approval of a new Ottawa Public Library central branch shows why civilization took so long to unfold.

Here you have intelligent people coming together to do what they perceive is best for the community … to the tune of 99-million taxpayer dollars. Good intentions gone astray.

The world, particularly in the age of technology, moves forward at a frightening pace. What the City of Ottawa has done is build the Commodore 64 in an age of clouds, the Internet and I7 chips.

It’s embarrassing.

The move resembles how generals prepare for the next war. In 1918, trenches and defence were successful. So the French post-war built the ultimate defensive structure, the Maginot Line.

In 1940, German tanks just drove around it defeating France in five weeks. A mere 22 years and technology of war was revolutionized. Five years later the atomic age began with the revolution coming at four times the pace of pre-war days. How fast is technology moving today?

People in Ottawa talk of wonderful architectural libraries as keystones to other cities. In fact, they are yesterday’s news. While the Ottawa Public Library builds a labour-intensive central building, out in Kanata people are working on driver-less cars. There will be lots of drivers at the library. At least the personnel will get new offices and won’t lose their jobs for decades to come.

While the kids sit at home using powerful laptops and carrying computers in their pockets, the OPL designs the next Studebaker.

Here’s another example. Two decades ago it took 750 people to produce one newspaper. Today The Bulldog publishes three websites with one person. That’s how much technology has improved.

For Mayor Jim Watson, the new central branch is another ribbon to cut, another self-aggrandizing effort of debt-building that propels him into the spotlight as the thinking mayor … an advocate of knowledge motherhood and apple pie. In the past his MO has been to build astronomical debt, then leave the consequences of the debt burden to others in the city for years to come.

But if some future thinkers, and goodness there are many in this community, had been hired by the mayor and OPL, maybe we could have built something innovative and cutting edge with that $99 million. Because now we’re getting an obsolete book-storage facility.

Instead the kids will be in the rec room driving computers on the Internet that will boggle the mind.

Meanwhile the OPL will have a new building with nice digs for librarians but nary a new idea to be found.

Why should children be interested in something in the 21st century that Andrew Carnegie would recognize?



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8 thoughts on “City Approves Yesterday’s Technology

  1. Please tell me, Ken, that you are not really visualizing Jim Watson cutting the ribbon at the new Library!! Why don’t we have the Mayor of the day do the honours?

    Have you been to any of the new libraries in other cities that you disparage so? They are pulling people in left, right and centre and are better used than the buildings they replaced.

    1. The Voter:

      I don’t know if you’ve been to the Internet, but it is pulling in people left, right and centre.

      Oh … wait a second … you’re on the Internet now. Maybe we should be looking at an Internet library, not a 19th-century-model library.

      We’re building the Maginot Line.



    2. Voter, the question is not how many residents and tourists visit the new central libraries in Halifax and Calgary. Rather the question is how many will tour the facilities in a decade, after the novelty has worn off. The question is not how many people pass through the front doors, but rather how many unique visitors pass through.

      Are we building:
      > a tourist destination that will generate little incremental revenue for Ottawa’s tourism industry;
      > a structure for the benefit of relatively few, regular visitors;
      > something that a majority (>450,000) residents will visit on a recurring basis, over the decades; or
      >a monument to the egos of a few selected electeds (trademark pending)?

      1. Let’s all meet on the front steps of the library in 20 years and we can check if it’s being used. I’ll wear a petunia in my lapel so you can find me.

  2. As long as they do preventative maintenance on the monument and they don’t let it fall into shambles ( governments have a horrible record of doing the latter) then at least you may end up with some square footage that can house servers, house the disadvantaged and oh yes store some paper.

    1. Chaz, the fact that the current central library has not been the subject of regular maintenance (the City’s mantra of a problem deferred is a problem solved, for now) over the years has contributed to the perceived need (just a few more syllables than want) should not be taken into account, right?


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