Yet top Canadian librarians do not see the Toronto scrap as a sign that the international malaise has arrived here. They point to upbeat developments in other Canadian cities. Just when Atwood was launching her Twitter war with Ford in late July, Calgary’s city council voted to earmark $135 million for a new central library, along with $40 million it had already set aside for the ambitious project. The oil field capital will have to build a spectacular temple to books to outshine Surrey, B.C., which is slated to open its curvaceous, Bing Thom-designed, $36-million City Centre Library later this month, or Halifax, which is spending $55 million on a European-inspired, architecturally adventurous downtown library, slated to open in early 2014.
More loans and Web hits refute the easy assumption that Google searches and cheap online book-selling must be rendering libraries obsolete. “People have preconceptions about libraries, and many of them are just inaccurate,” says Ken Haycock, emeritus professor of the University of British Columbia’s library science school. “The reality is that use is increasing, in foot traffic and in circulation.”
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About the New City Centre Library in Surrey, BC Public Library.
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