Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Library Experience

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the public library in Richmond, British Columbia. I browsed the many, many shelves in the place, which not only carried books, but movies and CD's as well, all free to borrow for library card holders.

One would think Richmond residents wouldn't know how good they have it, having a public library that, to my eyes, was pretty well-stocked, and that in area was as large as a forty-car parking lot (I'm estimating conservatively here, trying to include even the back area meant for librarians only). But the library was fairly full for a weekday, and people were constantly walking in and out, either borrowing or returning books; Richmond residents know the benefits of a well-run library, and show their appreciation by using it. The children's and teen's area was particularly busy and noisy. I thought that this would be because of the twenty computers with internet access free to use by card holders, but no...there were those borrowing and reading books too, and talking about them. Canada has two official languages, French and English, but Richmond has an active Chinese community as well, so these three languages were fairly represented in the library. I was told by my hosts that on weekends, the place is usually twice as full. The handful of photos above fail to do the place justice in terms of its size and what it contains.

Long-lines to check books out move quite quickly, as the act is done via scanning machines that read bar-code stickers. A computer monitor aids in the scanning, and the process of taking one item out, be it a book or a CD, takes about, oh, three seconds. Given this ease, it's quite easy to walk out with an armful of books, and I saw many people do just that. Returning books is a simple matter of bringing them all to the "Returns" section.

I've been to the New York public library once upon a time too, and that place is even larger than this one (though it serves a larger reading population than the one in Richmond). Nevertheless, both of these places filled me with the same excitement and thrill at being able to borrow books at no cost.

Imagine this: that you could walk into a well-stocked bookstore in Manila and check-out any book you wanted to read for free, under the condition that you would have to return it after a set amount of time. My hosts, knowing my affinity for books, let me use their cards, so I took three out. Something tells me I'll be going back there again once I'm done with these three. Of course, being a public library with limited copies of the same titles, you would have to wait till a book you were looking for was returned before you could check it out for yourself. But honestly, that's something I could live with.

Don't you all wish that Manila also had well-run and well-stocked public libraries like this?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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