I was so excited to be at the grand re-opening of the Sidney/North Saanich Library in June. It was quite the celebration, with cake, speeches and a ribbon cutting. There were many people to name check and thank, and all of it happened within their new beautiful, bright, contemporary space. On all the signs, along with the Vancouver Island Regional Library logo, was the message: “Strong Libraries, Strong Communities.” It really struck a chord.
I LOVE libraries (I love book stores too; I guess I’m that kind of person) but I really, truly believe in and value the idea of a public library. No longer the reserve of academic institutions, today’s public libraries are resource hubs. It’s not just a place for dusty old books, it’s where you should start any quest for knowledge.
When I moved to Sidney almost 12 years ago, the library was the first place I visited. I found out about a drop-in story time, learned what the local publications were, where to look for a job. I used the computer and printer, I borrowed DVDs and books: lots and lots of books. Perhaps most importantly, I felt welcomed and like there was always a place where I could go (and take the children).
A library is one of very few public spaces where you can spend time, and interact with other people, without the expectation that money will be spent. This means it’s a resource that’s truly open to all. Equal opportunity of access, the same information and resources available to all. While we might have all sorts of information at our fingertips now with just a quick internet search, it doesn’t come close to a dedicated building full of knowledge and knowledgeable staff. It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter; you can read the paper, a magazine, pick a book from the shelf or browse the catalogue. If there’s something special you want they will bring it in for you. For free!
The library in the town I grew up in closed last month. The place I spent Saturday mornings browsing, where I read (almost) everything from picture book to adult fiction, researched school projects, and eventually took my own kids to. It makes me so sad, and frustrated – what a shortsighted decision.
Make sure you take advantage of our incredible community’s library. Check out the new accessible space, take part in the free programs they offer, and read their books! Ah summer reading – don’t get me started on the joys of that … !