From Library to Condos


Nora Ephron’s film You Got Mail was fiction, not anymore.  Joe, played by Tom Hanks, forces Kathleen (Meg Ryan) a small bookshop owner out of business when he opens his mega bookstore not far from hers.

Big bookstores like Chapters now understand how it feels like because of Kindle, e-books, Amazon and all related online book shopping.   What affects books affects libraries. 

That’s why I’m going to play devil’s advocate and predict that the way we use libraries might lead to closure and the scramble to carve them up as condominiums. 

Wealth is based on land.  Condos are built on land not water.  Libraries sit on prime urban real estate close to everything.  If they finally bite the dust, land developers might move in.  It happened with factories.
Lofts were created from factory buildings that were standing idle.  Lofts were yesterday, condos are today and tomorrow.  Idle.  Libraries are not idle, judging by the daily line-ups outside the Toronto Reference Library or the Winnipeg Public Library, but books are. 

There is hardly any traffic on footpaths in between book shelves.  Documentary films have stepped aside for YouTube, but it will be interesting to capture on camera library users in action. 
The first thing they do when they sit down is to find electrical outlets, power their computers and charge their phones and other electronic tools.  Most students study with both college prescribed textbooks and their computers. 

Library users who don’t have computers head for computer stations where they can surf the internet for half an hour.  The time limit is an effort to meet the demand for online access.  In some libraries, there are always security guards around such stations because of heated arguments.
What also makes the library redundant are electronic toys, phones, tablets, iPads etc.  People don’t have to leave home to do online research.

If libraries do close their doors forever, nothing will stop developers from lobbying vigorously to turn them in residential living spaces called condominiums.
Impossible you say!  Remember George Orwell’s book 1984?  Countries like that exist in 2014.

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