I was quite young when my dad first started taking me to the library. We would visit most often on Saturdays, as I recall. Even as a small fellow (to those who know of my height impairment, yes, I’m still a small fellow… ha ha…good one), I was given the opportunity to roam around in the library for something that would catch my interest. As a result, these many years later, I’m still a strong supporter of local libraries even though I get most of my books digitally for my e-reader (though, did you know, you can get those from the Calgary Public Library as well?).
The importance of a town’s or city’s library, I think, cannot be overstated. It is so much more than just a repository of books. I believe that they remain a vital gathering place for members of the community; the public can come together, can browse, can linger, and can learn. With our change to a digital era, I don’t think that libraries will go the way of the Blockbusters of yore, but will be reinvented. An article in Der Spiegel titled “Abandoning the stacks for a multimedia wonderland” talks in part about the future of libraries being focused upon users, not books. I really like that idea.
Calgary’s New Library
You may already be aware that Calgary will be getting a new Central Library at some point in the future. It has been on the books for years, and frankly, probably can’t come soon enough. I’m not sure just how many years ago our city outgrew the Castell Central Library, which has served our city so dutifully since 1964, but I’m going to guess that if a single year can be marked as to when that happened, it is probably closer to 1964 than it is to 2012. The City of Calgary is looking for your input to help decide the future of the new Central Library, and those that will follow it throughout the city.
There are several pubic consultations being held, though I have unfortunately missed the first two. Southeast Calgary, you’re not being ignored. I just didn’t get this done in time for your Sep 27 date. However, you still have three more opportunities to share your vision.
The Next Chapter of Calgary’s Libraries
Saturday, October 13
1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Dalhousie Community Association Hall
5432 Dalhart Road NW
Tuesday, October 16
5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Cedarbrae Community Association
11024 Oakfield Drive SW
Wednesday, October 24
5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Pineridge Community Association
6024 Rundlehorn Drive NE
What say you, Calgary? What is your vision for tomorrow’s library. What capabilities, what features, and what wonders would you incorporate? If the only limit was your imagination, what amazing community resource would rise from the fertile soil of your creativity?
I see an atrium building, filled with beautiful, ginormous plants. (Maybe there’s no issue with humidity if there’s no books. Or maybe they’re kept in a separate, individually controlled area.) If I had my druthers, the atrium would rise to 60 or 80 feet above me almost upon entry, not unlike the cathedrals of old Europe. After all, isn’t a library really a cathedral to knowledge? There would be many different, organically-designed seating and standing areas to read, or to visit, or to lunch, or to debate, or to learn. It would pilfer all of the best features from all of the funky tech offices around the world and incorporate spaces where different minds can be inspired, freed, or constrained, as its owner wishes.
In this cathedral of knowledge, group after group after group would come together to discuss those things that were important to them. They would have the collective knowledge of the entire world at their fingertips, able to access any text, any video, any recording, all simply by making the polite request to the AI that runs the joint (and will probably one day take us over and rule us…I, for one, welcome our new librarian overlords).
There will continue to be other libraries, perhaps with other themes. Perhaps some brimming with books made of paper, which by that time may already feel quite unfamiliar, though so quaint and old-timey.
I don’t think anyone knows just what the future is for libraries, though I do believe that any rumour of their death has been greatly exaggerated. (I don’t really know how to footnote in a blog, and I’m sure everyone in the English-speaking world knows that I ripped that off from Mark Twain, but in the interest of not being called a filthy word-stealer, I ripped that off from Mark Twain.) But what that future is might just incorporate that unique and fascinating idea that percolates in your mind alone. So go share it.