Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/5/2018 (774 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When you stop to think about what a public library is and the function it serves within a community, it almost seems like a mythical place.
No, really — think about it. A public library is a place in which hundreds upon hundreds of books — containing a universe of ideas, thoughts, stories and characters — are available for anyone to borrow and read, free of charge. It’s a place in which information is made accessible to anyone, also free. It’s a place where one can read newspapers, rent movies and use the internet, as well as access innovative community programming aimed at making us a more compassionate and less ignorant society. Again, all for free.
Public libraries are incredible things. They are the bedrock of literacy and democracy, which is why it’s encouraging that the City of Winnipeg is continuing to invest in ours. This week, the St. Vital Library reopened after undergoing a $2.4-million facelift that included the addition of an elevator, more washrooms and a new roof — all improvements that will boost usage.
The renovations provide, quite literally, a new lease on life for the St. Vital Library. Five years ago, it was slated for demolition. And later, it was slated for amalgamation with Windsor Park.
St. Vital is one of the 10 libraries included in Winnipeg’s 2013 library redevelopment strategy, which acknowledged, quite correctly, that libraries can’t truly be accessible places for all if the spaces themselves are not accessible. The decision to improve rather than shutter these brick-and-mortar community hubs was forward-thinking then and it’s forward-thinking now; in an era of fake news and misinformation, it seems we need libraries more than ever. In the relentless storm of information that bombards us every day, libraries are lighthouses. Their existence ensures that information and knowledge are not just for those who can afford to buy books or pay for a Wi-Fi connection.
Libraries offer more than just access to books. Those who haven’t set foot inside a Winnipeg Public Library location since they got their first library card in elementary school might be surprised at all that’s on offer. Word processing and research courses, book clubs, guest lectures, documentary screenings and even a story time led by drag queens are just some of the programming you’ll find at our libraries. It’s programming such as this that fosters community, connection and learning.
The forthcoming Idea Mill at the Millennium Library, a space that will include 3D printers, sound-recording booths, a crafting area and photography and video equipment, is another example of how our city’s libraries are innovating to fulfil their role in modern society.
And with libraries come librarians, who are resources themselves. They aren’t bespectacled, cardigan-wearing shushers; they are there to educate and empower, whether it’s sourcing research materials or helping someone figure out how to get ebooks on their iPad.
But perhaps most crucially, libraries and librarians help nurture generations of young readers. They remain a critical link between children and reading for pleasure, which is no small thing considering how much our lives are populated by screens. Research has shown that children who read for pleasure perform better in other areas of their lives and are more likely to grow up into adults who read.
To invest in libraries is to invest in the future.
Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.
Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.
To those who have made donations, thank you.
To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.
The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.
After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.
If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.
We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.