So Calgary is building a new $240 million library to open next year.  (The actual amount is up in the air.)

Now I love libraries.  When I was a kid in Regina we would have a travelling library trailer show up once a week at a spot a few blocks away from our house.  Big event for me as I would climb in, return the book from the previous week, and immediately search out books in the categories that I loved.  War, history, adventure and Romantic novels.  (Well, obviously not the last.)

When I went off to University, I spent many hours in Libraries, mostly looking for quiet places to study, but also to seek information.  Now this is way before Google.

Every place we moved as a family, the first thing we did was sign up for the local library.

The Library in Markham in the early eighties had an expansion with many thousands of new books.  Easily a weekly visit.

In 1986 we moved to Calgary in a Southwest neighborhood.  Within a week the kids and I drove to the new Fish Creek Library to sign up.  A bit of a surprise.  Obviously a bunch of money spent on a pyramid building but no money spent on books.  All show, no inventory.   This was the norm for Calgary.

Over our years in Calgary we had to drive to other libraries around the city to actually look for books of interest.

Decades past, and now no one goes to a library to find a book.  You read ebooks (if the kids these days read books at all), and if you are into dead tree versions there is no end of book sales.

I drop in every now and then to our very nice Courtenay Library, mainly to pick up books on CD for our driving trips.  Aside from occasional groups of young students being shown the system, virtually everyone in the Library is homeless, hogging all the chairs and enjoying the temperature and washrooms.  I cannot remember the last time I saw a teenager or a young twenty-year old in the facility.

So Calgary has chosen to build a $240 million library.  I expect the homeless people in Calgary will love it.

At the same time, Calgary does not want to spend money on a new hockey arena.

I challenge my children (aside from James), and my grandchildren, my brother and my nieces and nephews, to tell me when they last visited a public library.

I do not think this is sad demonstration of the decline of human intellectual interest.  I think it is an indication of the end of the era of gleaning information through dead trees.  I still read 2 newspapers a day and fully realize that this will not go on.

I’m envisioning the day when the Flames move to Seattle, and all the people of Calgary head off to the fancy new library to commiserate.