In the West-Island of Montreal, outrage recently broke out over the local library. As part of the Pierrefonds-Roxboro Library's $24.4-million library renovation project, they decided to build a drive-thru book drop off/return slot. This would mainly serve parents who have to leave their children in idling cars while returning books or elderly citizens who must find parking in order to simply return their books.
A local councillor has opposed the idea, saying it’s “an aberration”. Christine Gosselin says, "Culture prides itself on being the fourth pillar of sustainable development, so we wonder how, in 2018, we can integrate a drive-thru return service into a library." She is afraid that a change of this nature will discourage people from entering the space. I agree, change is often uncomfortable. However, I believe that libraries are the spaces most equipped to accommodate change. In fact, they have always changed and evolved to accommodate us.
Libraries and librarians are our greatest custodians.
When we borrow books, we borrow their beauty. For a moment, the stories, the words on the page are ours. They provide us a temporary sanctuary for free and ask nothing in return except that we give the people after us the same chance - this is the art of borrowing.
When we return the books, we keep the lessons they teach us. The knowledge stays with us and the library remains as we return again and again.
When Coun. Gosselin expresses doubt about change in her local library, she underestimates the resilience of these institutions and their sheer staying power. Libraries are made to bend just like the books they contain. I mean, have you seen some of the older books in libraries? Pages are ripped and filled with writing. Margins are packed with amateur annotations and their spines are held together by what seem to be some sort of divine miracle...Yet, they remain. In 2014, Ursula LeGuin spoke to this and gave a speech about the power of writing.
Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.
In a world where hope seems at times, elusive, libraries remind us that change is always possible. In a world where systems seem inescapable, libraries remind us that change is possible. In a world that occasionally forgets about the power of imagination, libraries remind us of our possibility. In a world where trust is rare, libraries remind us that we can trust them to stay. And that’s what we keep with us even after everything is returned.
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