Last week, I was in Montreal for a few days, so I thought I would go see the Grande Bibliothèque. I had never been, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed!
The building alone is worth a visit. Built in 2005, the modern structure boasts huge windows and high ceilings. The combination of concrete, glass, copper and yellow birch makes for an impressive result. The library holds more than 4 million items spread on 6 levels. To give you an idea of how big the collection is, it occupies 80 kilometers (50 miles) of shelf space, more or less the distance from Toronto to Barrie. 70% of the collection is in French, and the rest is in English.
One of the reasons for the Grande Bibliothèque’s success is that it was built next to the Berri-UQAM subway station. It is also located right downtown, so it is very easy to access. In fact, around 55,000 people come to the Grande Bibliothèque each week, and in May 2014, the library reached 25 million visits since its opening. However, I must say that I wasn’t impressed by the neighborhood. I don’t know if this was because we went during the Jazz Festival, but the public park next to the library on Place Emilie-Gamelin was really dirty, with litter strewn everywhere. There were also a lot of homeless people around.
What I really liked about this library though was their children’s section with its interactive games, listening pods and reading nooks. In fact, my husband and my daughter spent most of their time there while I was looking around the building. When I came back, they were both curled up on blocks of foam, reading comics. So I ended up joining them, and we spent the rest of our Sunday morning there.
Have you visited the Grande Bibliothèque in Montreal? What were your impressions of it?