I'm glad to know that libraries--at least in Canada--are booming, but this article seems to imply that the biggest reason for this boom is the fact that people are no longer afraid to read what they want, no matter the quality of the book (and thank goodness they've overcome their irrational notion that books are a "highbrow literary pursuit"); however, it ignores the fact that folks may just cutting out book buying from their budgets and instead get their reading fix for free at the library:
"Everyone thinks the Internet has been the death of the public libraries and exactly the opposite is true," says Grant Kaiser, director of marketing and development for Calgary Public Library. "We see more and more and more readership every year."
When Kaiser started at the library eight years ago, it was circulating 10 million items annually. Now, 14.5 million items go out the doors each year, the 2.5-million-item collection is kept fresh by adding a new book every six minutes, and 70 per cent of Calgary households have a library card, he says. Plans call for three new branches to be built and two others expanded in the next 10 years, Kaiser says.
"We've seen a dramatic increase in the number of people reading, despite what all of the numbers and that seem to say," he says.
Books used to be viewed as a highbrow literary pursuit that obliged readers to seek out hidden gems and choke down ponderous classics even if they didn't enjoy them, he says. That snobbery has now evaporated and people feel free to read whatever pleases them, transforming libraries into purveyors of blockbusters just like movie theatres, Kaiser says.
"People want to read what Oprah recommends, they want to read what are on bestseller lists, they want to read what TV shows and celebrities promote," he says. "I look at it as literature becoming mainstream."
Kaiser credits a growing trend toward applying marketing principles to books, whether on the part of publishing companies, savvy librarians or websites where people can rate books and sing the praises of their favourites.