Thursday, June 01, 2006

Canadian Parliamentary Library - Beacon of Access

An enduring symbol of Canada's heritage, and history, is our Parliamentary Library. The library was originally completed in 1876, less than a decade after Confederation, and a century after the United States Declaration of Independence.

The octagonal jewelbox of a library is the only part of Canada's original Houses of Parliament to have survived the 1916 fire. A quick-thinking librarian by the name of Alpheus Todd and library clerk Connie MacCormac closed the iron doors to the library just as the fires raged through Centre Block, saving it and all the book from almost certain destruction.

A recent $136 million dollar renovation is a reminder to all open access advocates: long before digital, virtual libraries, the pillar of access was physical libraries. Canada's Parliamentary Library is a case in point, and worth every penny of the hefty sum to preserve access to its treasures for future generations of Canadians, and researchers.

1 comment:

Heather Morrison said...

Good point, Dean! Libraries have always been about gathering information, preserving it and making it accessible. Open access just fits in; a new way to do what we have always done, in the virtual world.

We still need physical libraries, just as much as ever, if not more. As our world becomes more and more crowded with smaller and fewer private spaces, we need to cherish and protect our public spaces - and build new ones, too.