July 09, 2005

Welcome to the temple of knowledge !

Sorry guys, I haven't updated in some time...

It's just that sometimes, I feel like there is little of interest to tell... Of course, it's not exactly true, but whatever...

So I mentionned in my last post that I would write about the Great Library, and I will.

First and foremost, let me explain that there exists in Qu├ębec a vast network of libraries. Some are nested at the heart of educationnal institutions, colleges, universities and such. Others are municipal properties which offer the service for free to local inhabitants.

For starters, the building is impressive in size, as it actually spans on a total of 33 000 sq. meters (so that's about 355,209.04 square foot). It also is pretty well conceived, as it is meant to provide a lot of natural light while still protecting the books from sun exposure. The GL is 4 floors high, which holds pretty much anything one would hope to find there. It is linked to the subway by an underground tunnel, and by the same occasion, to UQAM, one of the major francophone universities in the country. Let me take you on tour !

In the basement, you'll find the Kid section. Includes comics, child novels, child movies to be borrowed or viewed on site, and CDs for children. The collection is mainly francophone but there is a multilingual section with books in pretty much any written language. The whole space is conceived with children in mind, so bright colors and low seats are in order.

The lobby provides access to about 150 newspapers, with open access to the latest issues and more than 1,600 print journals and magazines from QC and everywhere. This includes specialized publications such as "Anthropology News" and "Environmental Law Review". Wonderful comfy spaces to sit and read everywhere. That's also where you borrow docs (self-serve with digital scanning) and return them (just drop them on the little moving carpet). I love technology !

The 1st to 3rd floors include the art and litterature section (this is where you get novels, but also pretty much anything artsy or philosophical). Again, the international aspect is there. Also, this is where the Comic section is. Ah... I love comics ! History, social sciences and maps (that's more serious, I don't go there often). Also where you get law documentation (though it would not be my primary source, the courthouse is still more exhaustive). Also where they keep the encyclopedias. I'm not sure but I think the language learning centers and job search areas are on the 2nd floor, and that's also where the National collection is kept : a record of every book that was published/written in Quebec.

4th floor is the music collection. It probably is the most popular place, because it allows you to listen to and borrow CDs without having to pay. (And we all know how expensive CDs are !) It's also possible to borrow movies (and they have a good range) or to view them onsite. This is an amazing service, espescially if you're broke ! Also, they have an amazing collection of music parts, so musicians no longer have to spend on paper music ! Did you notice the state of the art computer equipment ?

So the creation of the GL is pretty amazing because anyone who lives in Quebec is allowed to use the service for free, including borrowing a cumulative total of 15 documents for 3 weeks, which can be renewed 3 times. So I can borrow 15 docs for approximately 3 months. Talk about making knowledge accessible !

As you can tell, I'm very enthusiastic about this ressource. Of course, nobody has any excuse not to read anymore in Montreal. Now, the question is : is this going to reduce business for bookstores, musicstores and videostores ?


Victoria said...

Wow. I should really go there! Is this the new library that opened near Atwater?

Beaver said...

hum ! Sorry Vic, but it actually is at Station Berri-UQAM, and on the corners of Maisonneuve and Berri. I should have been more specific, sorry :S