Yesterday’s Library For Tomorrow


It’s hard being against a new public library.

Libraries are perceived as being as valuable as mothers’ milk and apple pie. Accordingly being against a new $100-million library puts me in the anti-mothers’-milk-and-apple-pie faction.

It’s lonely out here.

So some people have been inquiring about how your agent feels about the location of the new library. I’m not there yet and maybe won’t get there at all. Your agent instead has been preoccupied with an Internet library and a number of small satellite libraries and places where Wi-Fi and computers can be used … especially in underprivileged areas.

But as our Great Civic Helmsman and ceremonial mayor Jim Watson said, public consultation is a good thing but it can’t go on forever. Now he is addressing a problem we don’t have in Ottawa. When have public consultations gone on too long. The opposite perhaps.

Instead we have to get moving on this thing. Yes that was the logic that got us the rail tunnel and an over-payment of more than $1.4 billion on the project. Sometimes Mr. Mayor, hitting the reset button isn’t a bad idea.

Video above: Bookmark the Core on library locations.

A supporter of the library was on television Wednesday morning dreaming of reading a book and sitting by a fire in our new building. Hmmm.

There’s a 19th-century vision if you ever saw one. Books and fire. Perhaps a snort of cognac as well?

When your agent reads a book it is usually in the midst of a surround-sound system listening to jazz or classical in the living room. The book I read has been downloaded to my tablet from Book Bub for a $1.99. If I want a fire, I can switch to the fireplace channel on the big man TV.

And this from a person who Larry “Sludge” Hammer, Bulldog commenter extraordinaire, says is irrelevant and doesn’t know when to quit. Wow. Imagine how obsolete the library supporter and fire-and-book man is.

But we need a big honkin’ library because …? The kids won’t go now to the new hunk of concrete because they’re busy Googling stuff up in the rec room. That said, politicians will like it because it looks smart, they can cut a ribbon and maybe put their name on it. Librarians will like it, too. Better offices and lunch rooms.

In the private sector now, facing horrendous competition from overseas and the Internet, frills such as a library are gone. Instead every computer can access Google.

So now Ottawa is building a huge expensive structure on the backs of taxpayers and companies that are fighting for their financial lives.

The city thinks taxpayers are an unending well of revenue rather than looking for better and cheaper alternatives than a 19th-century library for the 21st century.

But that would require thought and innovation which are in short supply on Laurier Avenue.

The library board approved the project Tuesday (no doubt with big support from librarians) and city council will rubber-stamp it. About $100 million before interest is paid.

Back to the future.



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3 thoughts on “Yesterday’s Library For Tomorrow

  1. Books and fires sounds like the theme of a story by Ray Bradbury.

    Keep up the discussion, the more talking the better. Some people may yet see this as too expensive, too wasteful.


  2. The argument that LeBreton is a great location because it’s on the LRT just doesn’t work when the vast majority walk to the library today:

    – The homeless … an LRT trip each way is not cheap;
    – Downtown office workers, a walk to the library at lunch makes sense … LRT trip to Lebreton not so much;
    – People with mobility challenges will face the escarpment …


  3. “Your agent instead has been preoccupied with an Internet library and a number of small satellite libraries and places where Wi-Fi and computers can be used … especially in underprivileged areas.”
    Am wondering if this idea was ever presented to the library board?


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