Lumos Research for the Canadian Urban Libraries Council has released new reports that are encouraging to the sustainability of the public library system in Canada. Across the country, library usage is up 45 per cent over the past decade, from 16.6 to 24.1 transactions on average per capita.
One of the most well known success stories in very traditional library adapting to the digital age is the The Grande Bibliotheque in Montreal Quebec. Membership has grown 17 per cent over five years. The $142-million library, which opened in 2005, now has 286,000 active members and 3 million visits annually. he key to a library’s success, said Guy Berthiaume, director of the Grande Bibliotheque, is to adapt with the times. The Montreal library now has 200,000 ebook titles available with plans for more on the way.
With the advent of Overdrive to facilitate the library lending and e-readers to read the books, the going is good for libraries. There is no longer any late fees to deal with because the ebooks are returned automatically at the end of the loan period. Instead of toting around a huge tome of War and Peace, you can merely load the file in your phone or e-reader.
Despite the fact libraries are seeing record usage because of ebook lending, people are still visiting the actual location. The Grande Bibliotheque, like many new megalibraries across the globe, was designed to serve as a central meeting place.
Not just to read, but to hold study groups, exhibitions and lectures. Berthiaume calls libraries one of those rare “third places” that is free to the public, and away from work and home.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.