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Grand Bibliothèque...cultural and architectural marvel or costly white elephant?

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Grand Bibliothèque's opening soon. What do you guys think of it? Is it a cultural masterpiece? An architectural beauty? Should other cities get it? I'd love Ottawa to get a new one!


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New library aims to get Quebeckers reading
Grande Bibliothèque is worthy of its name, CEO says. But will it create book lovers?
By INGRID PERITZ
Friday, April 29, 2005 Page A14

MONTREAL -- It's shaped like a shoebox and its colour is best described as hospital-gown green. To the passerby, Montreal's vaunted new megalibrary might not look like the shrine to literacy and culture that its boosters had promised.

But after years of debate, the Grande Bibliothèque du Québec is finally ready, rising on an entire block in the bohemian -- if slightly seamy -- Latin Quarter of Montreal.

The monument lifts Montreal into the growing list of cities, from Seattle and Vancouver to Paris, that have made large central libraries the newest pet civic project. Montreal's new library is modern, high-tech and central. But the provincially funded project, which cost $97.6-million to build and another $44-million to stock and equip, is also a gamble: Will it get Quebeckers reading?

"When it comes to public libraries, Quebec was behind, and Montreal was especially far behind," said library CEO Lise Bissonnette, who used to be known for her trenchant pro-sovereignty editorials when she was publisher of the daily Le Devoir.

"I can't solve all the reading problems in Quebec," she said in an interview. "But this is an indispensable tool. It brings Montreal to an excellent level in North America with a library worthy of its name."

The library is certainly an impressive undertaking. Scheduled to open to the public tomorrow after its official inauguration today, the six-level building is in the heart of eastern downtown and offers a collection of 1.2 million books. It has lots of comfy armchairs, 400 computer stations, and plenty of music CD listening posts. The interior is airy and inviting, and the children's section takes over the basement. No fustiness here: A café with outdoor terrace is planned for the main floor and space for second-hand booksellers will be outside.

"We call it a citizens' meeting place," Ms. Bissonnette said. "It's the new cultural institution of the 21st century."

In addition to being Montreal's central library, it also houses Quebec's "national" library collection, which includes virtually everything ever published in the province -- from 18th-century catechism texts to Mordecai Richler's acerbic critiques of Quebec nationalists. One-third of the collection is in English.

The library is earning kudos in a city that takes culture seriously, yet hasn't built a major public project related to culture since the early 1990s. Still, the nagging question is whether one grand monument will help create a province of book lovers.

Montreal's neighbourhood libraries are criticized as being understaffed and underfinanced. Public libraries across the province stock 2.5 books for each Quebec user, compared with three in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. Quebeckers borrow 5.9 library books a year compared with 10.1 in the other three provinces. Quebec has about one-quarter the number of librarians in its public system that Ontario does.

The poor showing is often called a legacy of the Catholic Church; according to popular lore, when advocates obtained a $150,000 grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation for a new Montreal library in the early 1900s, church authorities forced them to refuse it.

"For the Catholic Church, books were very dangerous," said Réjean Savard, a professor of library sciences at the University of Montreal. "The truth wasn't supposed to be found in books, but in the priest. So the church blocked libraries' development. You can understand why we're behind today."

How to solve the lag? Experts say the best way to prod the public into libraries is through welcoming, neighbourhood branches. A child won't walk downtown to do his homework or attend an after-school program.

"To foster the culture of reading and literacy, branch libraries are so important," said Don Butcher, executive director of the Canadian Library Association.

Funding will also be crucial. Premier Jean Charest will be on hand to inaugurate the library today, although it was the preceding Parti Québécois government, which saw the library as an expression of its cultural ambitions, that approved it. Over the weekend, 20,000 to 30,000 people are expected for an open house. Once the library gets going, 5,000 visitors are expected to step through its doors each day.

"This library will fill a major void, because we didn't have a decent main library," Prof. Savard said. "We're making the gamble that by building a big library, we'll raise the level of the entire network. I think it will work. But what I'm worried about is that we'll say we've made the effort, then stop.

"We're far from having caught up," he said. "And the battle isn't over."
 

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I'm sure it is very functional and has a lot of space and collection. That said, it just looks like a 1960s glass box that will not age well.
 

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I love this Grand bib , been there many times, this is one of the best thing that I am so in love with in Montreal...maybe it is not your cup of tea but I have no complain
 

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WEll, the best way to know if a building is a success is to see if the people of the city are actually using the damn thing. the Bibliothèque National has had plenty of people visit and use its facilities over the past couple of years.

I'd say it's a success.
 

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I'm in favour of anything that encourages people to read, so if this does then it is money well spent. I have to be honest, when you drive by it, it is not really a beautiful building or colour. But it is the function that is the most important aspect. So, I'd say it is a cultural marvel.
 

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WEll, the best way to know if a building is a success is to see if the people of the city are actually using the damn thing. the Bibliothèque National has had plenty of people visit and use its facilities over the past couple of years.

I'd say it's a success.
I love BANQ. It was the first place I frequented when I moved here and didn't know anybody and I still go 3 or 4 times a week. I've never seen it less than packed and it apparently exceeded the expected usage rate by 50%.

I like the fact that I can access it from the métro and then go on to my classes at UQÀM without having to go outside. They have an huge selection of books in French and English and my girlfriend was amazed at the size or the Spanish selection (she's a loca latina). I also like the top floor music and video department and the self-serve checkout system.

The interior is beautiful and all of the furnishings were designed by Michel Dallaire. He's the guy who designed the street furnishings for Square Victoria and who is now designing all of the new benches, bike posts etc for downtown.

http://www.dallairedesign.com/flash/index.html

I do wish that we had more storefront libraries though. Every quartier has one or two main locations but it would be more convenient if we had more little branch libraries. And I hope that they can solve the falling slats problem!

Here's what the American Library Association had to say about BANQ when they gave it their 2007 award for finest example of library design:

«La Grande Bibliothéque, for the Bibliothéque et Archives nationales du Québec, Montreal, by Patkau / Croft-Pelletier / Menkés Shooner Dagenais Architectes Associés

This public library, the winning entry in an international design competition, consolidates collections dispersed throughout the province to create a resource library for the region and a central public library for the city of Montréal. Four hundred thousand square feet in size, the building contains four major components: a general library, a children’s library, the Collection nationale (historic documents pertaining to Québec) and an assortment of public spaces. Below grade, the library is joined to a major intersection in the Montréal metro system. The Jury members said, “At once urban, human scaled, and extraordinarily open, the building succeeds by its exquisite use of materials and detailing both inside and outside. There is a peaceful, tranquil feel that provides a welcome contrast to its grand urban gesture, masterfully executed. The architects were at the top of their game.”»

http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Sec...anagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=155669
 

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The Grande Biblio is very nice INSIDE, its very useful and well used and much like a ugly girl it looks better in the dark of night. Its so damned ugly seen in the daytime, fitting for the area which is one of the ugliest parts of town!

Are the paneaux still falling down on people's heads or has that been fixed?
 

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The Grande Biblio is very nice INSIDE, its very useful and well used and much like a ugly girl it looks better in the dark of night.
Agreed. From the outside, this building is horrible. the colour they chose was disgusting.

fitting for the area which is one of the ugliest parts of town!
Uh??? When was the last time you went to the Quartier Latin? I would NOT say that it's one of the ugliest in town.:eek:hno:

Are the paneaux still falling down on people's heads or has that been fixed?
I think they finally fixed that problem!
 

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Uh??? When was the last time you went to the Quartier Latin? I would NOT say that it's one of the ugliest in town.:eek:hno:
silly habsfie, my dear.

Not le quartier latin but eastwards at la station central, the unfinished and scandalous skeleton of the UQAM fiasco, the hordes of empty lots, the junkie infested square berri, the ugliness of the UQAM buildings (and students) and the general blandness of the surrounding buildings (hotel des gouverneurs and the other concrete monstosities), not to mention the hordes of sans-abris. Walk one block west in le quartier latin and all that changes.
 

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It looks like an ugly 1960s Government of Canada building.
For a city that has such beautiful archetecture this is a true disappointment.
The only person who should be proud of that monstrasety is Stalin.
 

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I am surprised as to why our city always crap out on important designs. When the big O was built, the roof fell. When this Library was built, half of the copper panels fell off.

I really like the building though, it is very nice and has become an icon to the city :eek:kay:
 

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If that new piece of glass is an icon for the city the Montreal is on a downward slope.
Vancouvert's library is very attractive and unique. Toronto's is OK.
Funny, Montreal has such gorgeous historic buildings but a lot of the newer ones are true crap. In Toronto its the opposite. It doesn't have as much historic buildings but its newer buildings are ussually quite handsome and unique. ROM is one example as is AGO.
 

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are you here to stir shit or what?

who said its an icon? Its just a damn library and telling by its visitor count, its frankly a success and on top of that it was built under budget, which is a feat for public works.

and althegreat, another shit stirrer, no glass every fell on anyone's head, why do you LOVE being so negative and spread false info, not everyone reading your posts has the time or willingness to research whatever crap you're posting and telling truth from false.
 

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Personaly, i tihnk the library looks good. Its not like ''OMG, i tihnk i'm gonna have a heart attack'' feeling...but it is a library, meant for people to be inside... ;)
 

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voilà des photos..... Désolé pour la Qualité, c'Est tout ce que wiki avait... :lol:







Alors, c'est quoi le problème du vert-cuivre??? Ca match avec le parlement a ottawa ;) :banana:
 
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