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Austrian National Library


Navigating the Local Library

When was the last time you visited your local library? A library card gives you access to free programs, technology, resources and millions of items. This, of course, is a shameless plug because for almost 10 years I have had the privilege of working for two GTA library systems with a focus on promoting all that our libraries have to offer.

And if you think libraries are just buildings with books, I urge you to visit a nearby library location or check out a library website (if you are in Peel Region you can get started at librarycard.ca). At a library, you can print a design on a 3D printer, learn a new language and research your family history. There are programs for everyone including story times, author talks and social clubs. Download eBooks, listen to music, play video games or stream movies/tv shows. And did I mention it’s all free? Gone are the days where you will be shushed by a librarian. Modern libraries are community hubs filled with energy and excitement (and of course great places to read and study too)!

So, when I travel to new cities around the world, I find myself drawn to the local library (tip for tourists: libraries while travelling are a great spot if you need some local information, a printer, etc. Some may even grant temporary borrowing privileges). In contrast to the modern libraries I mentioned above, the State Hall of the Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek) in Vienna is one of the most beautiful and historic libraries I’ve visited in the world.

This breathtaking baroque building was commissioned by Emperor Charles VI in 1723. His statue stands in the centre of the hall surrounded by four magnificent Venetian globes.

In total, the library has 128 bookshelves and cabinets that hold over 200,000 works on stunning wooden shelves.

Wooden staircases lead to books from the years 1501 to 1850, including the collection of Prince Eugene of Savoy, which contains around 15,000 volumes.

Back here in Canada, our libraries provide essential community support through 652 library systems and 3350 branches. A recent report from the Canadian Urban Institute highlights the important role that libraries play to support citizens in the post pandemic world. The report calls upon each order of government to up their investment in the country’s largest network of knowledge and service providers. Read the report “OVERDUE: The Case for Canadian Public Libraries” at canurb.org.

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” – Albert Einstein

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