International and Comparative Librarianship

S. R. Ranganathan, P. N. Kaula, R. N. Sharma, J. F. Harvey, D. J. Foskett, J. P. Danton, M. M. Jackson, etc.
This Blogosphere has a slant towards India [a.k.a Indica, Indo, South-Asian, Oriental, Bharat, Hindustan, Asian-Indian (not American Indian)].

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Librarians at the gate


Cities worldwide are investing in libraries as never before, hoping for that `Bilbao effect,' the kind of civic shot in the arm only an ambitious building can provide. In its modest way, Toronto is no exception
Nov 03, 2007 04:30 AM Christopher Hume Urban Affairs Columnist, Toronto Star

extract: "...Though long overdue, libraries are finally starting to get the respect they deserve. Despite reports of their demise, they have not only survived the onslaught of civic poverty and computerized knowledge, they have thrived.

Cities around the world are investing in libraries as never before. In some instances, new libraries have created their own "Bilbao effect," changing the very image and perception of a community. The most celebrated example is that of Seattle, which famously hired Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to design its new main branch. The result is one of the most original buildings of the 21st century. Most remarkable, it isn't just another pretty face; it actually functions.

Even more interesting in some respects was the 2002 "reconstruction" of the legendary Alexandria Library in Egypt. Destroyed in antiquity, it has been now been dramatically replaced by the Norwegian architectural firm, Snohetta.

Though Toronto has nothing of equal significance, we are well into a library rebuilding campaign that for all its modesty has had impressive results. Most of the work has occurred in small neighbourhood branches such as Runnymede, Malvern and the Beach. A total of 12 buildings have been renovated so far; next year another six will be completed.

Now, the biggest city library of all, the Toronto Reference Library on Yonge St. just north of Bloor, is undergoing renovation. The fact that the building opened 30 years ago this week brings extra meaning to the project, which couldn't have come at a better time.

... But does our attitude toward libraries allow us to view them as cultural facilities?

In Toronto it seems we understand them as being somewhere between a public work and an educational institution.

They are both, of course, but more. In its essence, the library is a repository of knowledge, as well as an archive and place of learning. Nothing could be nobler, but we prefer they remain in the public sector, paid for with tax dollars." continue reading

  • See also in same shelf and aisle: Toronto Reference Library renovation update And a comment on the above article : "That is exciting news... Hume downplays the success of the Toronto Library system, but it is an extremely successful organization, with few equals on the continent. I would be very happy to see the Reference Library updated. The interior skeleton has potential, but it cries out for help."

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