Vancouver Public Library is the best library system in the world

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      One of the better aspects of living here is having the venerable Vancouver Public Library as part of our community.

      Not only does it provide literature to the masses, but it also acts as a refuge for the homeless. I've always found the service to be excellent and in all this time, I've never found a librarian to be rude or terse, which says something great.

      There's so much talk about trendy restaurants and the scenic beauty of Vancouver, but what about our library?

      In a study by done the Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, the Vancouver and Montreal public-library systems were rated as the Number 1 libraries in the world. They beat the public libraries of New York, Boston, London, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

      According to the study, the researchers analyzed the services provided by the libraries and the digital and physical spaces among 31 major centres.

      Subsquently, I discovered that 94 percent of Vancouver residents are happy to support the libraries with their tax dollars. It is the third largest library system in Canada and 62 percent of people say they wouldn't read books if they didn't have the library.

      The VPL was founded in 1869. The first branch established was the one in Kitsilano in 1927.

      The central branch is a nine-storey building with more than 348,000 square feet and, apparently, 700 parking stalls.

      To have such a massive institution well-run and well-serviced is a huge task and I think it's time we gave a pat on the back to all the hard-working librarians from top to bottom.

      Next time if you want to read Henry James, you know where to go. And you can donate your old books to the VPL.

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      25 Comments

      21st Century

      Jul 4, 2015 at 1:11pm

      How about use those funds 100% for the Homeless.

      Since we a thing called the Internet and e-Books.

      Why contribute to Carbon pollution transporting & storing pulp books?

      Allocate the buildings and Funds to Homeless Shelters and/or housing.

      We can get our books cheaper, for free and quicker on that Internet.

      I would rather my Tax dollars goes to Healthcare, Education housing the Homeless (Libraries don't provide education Universities and Colleges do).

      A significant amount of "books" checked out of libraries a frivolous pulp fiction and DVD movies etc.

      Welcome to the 21st Century.

      Sheena

      Jul 4, 2015 at 2:38pm

      Thanks for this article, and let's all ignore "21st Century" up there, who clearly hasn't stepped away from his computer once in these past few years except to sleep. In a city that is ever-changing (and not in a good way), the library is an oasis of stability, and I agree that the system is amazing. Happy, polite staff at all locations, an easily-navigable website, good collection of material, and an excellent place to study (I got through university at the central location...and this was pre-internet!). Thanks for this shout-out to our libraries. They certainly deserve it.

      Sally Forth

      Jul 4, 2015 at 3:34pm

      The thing I love about our libraries is that everyone is welcome. They are a classroom, a refuge, a living room, a gathering place, and a place to share your story. And it's free!

      A. Reader

      Jul 4, 2015 at 4:47pm

      Can you say "puff piece"?

      Do you know that this much-quoted study was done by people halfway around the world who never visited VPL? That's right. It was done by people looking at information from various libaries' websites.

      Have you been to the downtown library in the past two years? Except for the first floor there are no desks. To get any help you need to pick up a phone and wait. The harried staff are doing the best they can, but they're clearly demoralized as hell. And since they're now expected to be jacks-of-all-trades, they're masters of none. There used to be librarians staffing each floor, who knew their floor like the back of their hand. Now it's a gong show.

      The library has turned into an empty shell of a building filled with computer terminals.

      I'm glad there are still a few real libraries in surrounding cities. I have to travel further, but it's worth it.

      Guillon Fish

      Jul 4, 2015 at 4:53pm

      I LOVE the library. The employees are polite and helpful, it is well organized, I can get almost any books I desire for free, the lectures are interesting and it is a welcoming place. We have a system to be proud of. And ... becoming well-informed about the world ... Is the first step towards a more just society where we take care of each other

      21st Centruy

      Jul 4, 2015 at 6:18pm

      I know advocating for the Homeless is so unpopular in Vancouver.

      But go ahead wast that money on something that's been replaced by the Internet.

      Just as most major brick and mortar Book stores have closed down and been replace by the Internet.

      the only reason the public Libraries have not closed down is that they are funded by the Government where return on investment or same allocation of Funds.

      Like omg helping the Homeless or the mentally ill is not considered.

      But go ahead keep funding that white elephant called the library while the homeless die on the streets of Vancouver.

      Typical of those that are thoughtless and uncaring in Vancouver.

      If those in this forum were given a vote to solve Vancouver's homeless crisis or keep public libraries they would choose Libraries over Human lives.

      Guilin's friend

      Jul 4, 2015 at 7:41pm

      21st century... How about he 500 million $ stadium?
      I would have preferred that money went to the homeless too... Now that was a selfish and useless waste and I would have voted to give the money to the homeless instead.
      But the library is necessary to keep knowledge and arts alive.

      Anonymous

      Jul 4, 2015 at 8:28pm

      21st Century is a wee bit confused about money, as are the politicians in office and those lining up to replace them.
      Homes for the homeless would free up a huge chunk of money and we could provide lots of efficient librarians to staff our wonderful library.
      Why would a politician do that? How would that benefit the politician? Go ahead. Vote them out of office. Until *you* form a new party that screens out psychopaths and narcissists some how, we'll all have to endure poverty politics.

      Neale

      Jul 4, 2015 at 11:14pm

      It is not true that "We can get our books cheaper, for free and quicker on that Internet." Plus the VPL is the place where a lot of homeless and other low income people can and do access the Internet. For free.

      David Bloom

      Jul 5, 2015 at 2:45am

      @21st Century:
      You are not advocating for the homeless. The homeless don't have your luxury. They don't have computers. For many homeless and others living in poverty, the library is one of the few free cultural institutions out there.

      You sneer at the "pulp fiction" that people take out. What business it of yours what choices people make when they read books. You can read Aristotle at the library; you can read the DaVinci Code. You seem bothered that the library only exists because government funding means it doesn't have to make money. Yes, that's correct. The same should be true of housing for the homeless.

      Both your posts are self-indulgent and ridiculous. Of all the things we spend tax money on, why would you pick on this essential? Your choice between funding libraries and helping the homeless is absolutely false and spurious. There are dozens of things we as a society waste money on. I'd be delighted to see those things curtailed to provide more benefits for the poor and homeless.

      The library isn't remotely one of them.