Friday, October 23, 2009

Reading into the matter . .

I am a library user and supporter. I believe library services are essential to an educated society. But I am still unconvinced that building or expanding an edifice is the best way to offer library service to the using public. Branch libraries are great - easy access for communities. Ordering books online is great and being able to pick them up at a local branch encourages library use. How about partnering with school libraries for pick up of library materials? If storage of materials is an issue then find warehouse space for excess materials that can be delivered to pick up venues. I really don't think people are going to come from the four corners of the city to a downtown building where parking and access is an issue. The goal of a library is to bring literature to the masses.

I agree that the main library needs a face lift. It may need upgrades in terms of its mechanical and electrical, etc. The focus however should be service. If I want a Chapters or McNally Robinson type of environment I'll go there and pay the price.

While I'm on this topic users of our library should be the citizens of Saskatoon who pay for it. If surrounding communities wish access to our libraries they should kick in and share the cost. I invite them do so so. If not, then those residents of surrounding communities should pay a fee for their library card giving them access to our tax funded library.


  1. Wow it feels like you don't like the "outsiders" using your stuff. I had the same problem with my brothers. Saskatoon residents should have a chip in their arms so we can be identified when taking out a book. Stop the plunder from the north.

  2. I live in City Park now, but even in my suburban days I always spent my library time at the downtown branch. It's a truly public space and a destination centre for the city.

    In fact, a vibrant central branch is part of a vibrant downtown and accessible to all.

    I would hardly call Chapters a suitable substitute for a healthy public library. Unless, of course, you're filthy rich.

  3. The downtown public library should evolve from its work repository model and into a more interactive environment, something that is a more dynamic public space.

    If you go to a university, you can often find space to get a bit of work done with your laptop or reading assignments. Sometimes these spaces are in the libraries, but as often they are classrooms or other common areas. Although the libraries are useful for quiet contemplation, sometimes interactive conversation areas are what's required with the user.

    Why are there so few public spaces outside of campus that could accommodate this sort of activity?

    If the downtown library is going through a development process, it should develop more collaborative work space into its design. More and more people -- home-based entreprenuers, non-university students, volunteer groups -- require public space to perform work or study or the like.

    I often use coffee shops to work as they have tables and a comfortable atmosphere to work in. The problem, of course, is that you have to buy some coffee or snacks in order to use the space. The quality of wi-fi access is also questionable. I do find those spaces convenient to meet with others, however, and it is a pleasant change from working at home.

    I would for once love a candidate offer some more creative ideas such as this rather than the tired old rhetoric of political debate. No wonder no one votes anymore.

  4. I agree the comments of the benefits of a good main library and the pleasure and enjoyment such a facility gives to its users. My concern centers around services to the general public. When dollars are in short supply should the focus first be getting materials to readers? I believe online booking, branches and the possibility of partnering with neighbourhood schools could do meet those needs.

    With a new branch library in Riversdale has the library seen an increase in usage from that area?

    My understanding is that the expansion of the main library would include coffee/snack shops, a gift shop and other such amenities as offered by the big chains. And I fear those directions will take away from a library's prime purpose.

  5. And how does the library get the funds to do all of this with cuts happening thanks to our mayor running Saskatoon into a major deficit? Makes sense that if you are going to have a library you offer some other services to make the library more appealing to visit.

  6. The Library Board sets their own budget and has their own taxing ability Anon. If you pay taxes in Saskatoon you would know that, it is right on your tax bill. What is disgusting is they are appointed to that board and not elected by the general public. If its my property taxes going there I want a say. But I would far better like to see may local property tax going to the library than to social programs (Low Cost Housing) that are the responsibility of the Provincial and Federal governments.

  7. The library sets its own budget and submits it to council for approval. Check your tax bill and you will note the amount of tax being collected for the library.

    I truly am torn on the library issue. I have always believed the richness of a library was the literature and solitude. I have always struggled with the idea that you have to lure people in to avail themselves of a public service.

  8. I would hardly call setting up better public spaces as "luring people in." The literature and solitude won't vanish in a new facility - it will exist alongside it. Check out the renovations to the University Library in recent years to understand this.

    The problem is that everybody wants the highest quality of public services, but nobody is willing to pay for them.

    Meanwhile, we're more than happy to provide tax abatements to giant Googleplex theatres, dump millions into building overpasses for WalMart, and extend defaulted loans to private-sector developers waiting for cash from their "bank" in Cypress.

    Not to say the Googleplexes and shortening trips to save pennies on disposable diapers do not have some benefits to society - But at what cost to the average taxpayer who increasingly has to foot the entire tax bill while Atch and his friends give the private sector a free ride?

    What is needed is some balance and rational discourse in these types of discussion.

  9. So what balance is there when with the technology age many people are turning to laptops,smart phones, ebooks etc. to read a book. Sure library's are nice but look at what the private sector has done ie Chapters with letting people stay in the store and read anything off the shelf hmmmm.. isn't that what a library does? We don't need 1 big behemoth library just so the Library Board has a taj mahal. I know they turned down any form of joint use with the school boards for the west sector because hell we wouldn't want students using it everyday. Libraries need to evolve and I don't see that happening in the near future.

  10. Clearly, poster above, you have never stepped foot in the University library... or a library in general.


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