The thing is, Vancouver has really nice libraries. They’re actually a bit like Libraries 2.0. More than places to read and borrow books, more than quasi-community centers, they are multi-functional gathering spaces, a bit like malls, but way way better.
Granted, the main library is a bit over-the-top (its facade is a tribute to a sporting arena where spectators watched lions and other beasts tear slaves and Christians apart for thrills), and while I can’t comment on the size of its collection, I can enthusiastically vouch for its alimentary value. Accessible cafes, food shops, and tables circle the inside perimeter of the wall, making the roomy atrium ideal for refueling and meeting complete strangers. (A Dutch fellow from Indonesia sat down next to me and proceeded to tell me about the Bigfoot files on the library’s second floor. I think he was off to Banff National Park the next day, his heart set on glimpsing Sasquatch. And to think that most people are thrilled if they spot a bear!)
The branch library on Denman Street also brings together two very important aspects of people’s lives: hockey and books. Yes, it has an ice rink attached to it.
As for my favorite library in the Vancouver area, Richmond’s public library takes the cake. On top of its bookshop decor and swanky youth Media Lab, it houses a museum dedicated to local history, a rooftop garden, and what I can only describe as a smartphone and tablet testing bar for its patrons. And if you still need a reason to go, the pool’s next door! Talk about meeting all your needs at once.