Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Public Libraries Abroad

When I walk into the Whitby Library and Customer Service Centre, I am struck by the amount of natural light streaming in from the windows. It's not that the public libraries I frequent back home don't have windows, but they just don't seem as bright as this one. I notice the same thing when I walk into the York Library Learning Center. The fact that they are not just called "public libraries" does not escape my attention either. By calling them libraries and either service or learning centers, yes you reference the books, but also the other services that libraries can offer people. I think this is important as I notice that more and more people are going to libraries to use computers, and not check out books. This was true in the one I worked in that was in a small Georgia town where a lot of people do not have their own computers.

The libraries I go to at home are not new, nor have they recently been redone, so I know that this aesthetic comparison may not be what everyone else notices. However, I do note some small differences in the libraries here that I wish ones in the states would pick up.

The shelves in these libraries are not much higher than eye level. Not only does this make the top shelf easier to reach, but it allows more light to flow through the area. Also, Haley, who I was with in Whitby, likened the shelf labels to those of Blockbuster. Every bay had the genre on it so you could easily see where certain books were located. In the libraries I know, the labels are only on the sides and are sometimes not as clear as I think they should be.

The librarians here place protective covers on every single book that is in the library. Sometime I pick up a book in my local library, and it is so worn that I am afraid the cover is going to come off. These protective covers really help even the books that are most frequently circulated keep their shape.

One of the more striking things to me was the "World Literature" section in the York library. This section is made up of literature in other languages. Arabic, French, German, Russian, and many others are represented here. While I'm sure that certain libraries have this type of section, I have not seen it in those that I frequent. I love the fact that York has all of these books.

I love going to libraries in other places to see what they do differently than to those that I go to on a regular basis. This is the first time that I have been to any in another country. It was great to see the similarities and differences of how things are done at home and abroad.

~Virginia W. Blake

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