A library? Why?
As the public discussion of a new library building for Aylmer continues across the public domain, more and more options arise. The letters in this newspaper continue to play an interesting role in uncovering and exploring these options. Certainly we aren’t getting as many proposals from the city as we see in these letters or hear in discussions around town. That’s a shame, a civil service assuming it has the authority to limit the choices.
This is not to criticize the administration as much as it is to point out that, of course, we are going to get a wider diversity of opinions and suggestions if we draw these suggestions from our entire community, as opposed to having “experts” map out the future for us. No matter if those experts are public servants, consultants, or employees of corporate entitites. Experts are outnumbered in sheer numbers but also in the range of experience and education found within a community. Especially within a community as well educated and civically involved as Aylmer’s.
Aylmer’s statistics also explain why Aylmer still has its own public media, this newspaper, while the rest of Quebec’s Fourth Largest City has fallen into a media shadow. The small point in all this is that city administrators and councillors ought to pay closer attention to the proposals and questions arising from their citizens.
Obviously. But for those who continue to insist on a “professional” solution, please consider that it was in the letters that we learned of similar libraries and other public facilities which have been built quicker and much cheaper than the current plan. Consultations have not informed us of these other experiences. They have not explained why it will take years – years! – to complete the building, nor why Aylmer’s project is so much more expensive than others elsewhere.
Perhaps we ought to look, first, at the whole concept of public consultations on city projects. Are they real consultations – give-and-take, with various alternatives up for comparison and debate? Or are they more along the line of “this is what we’re planning to do, and this is how wonderful it will be”? Top-down or bottom-up? Why not a combination?
Meanwhile, as with the Parc des cedres and its pavillion, wouldn’t it be wise to take a step back from all the A and B lists, budget deadlines and timetables, and so on, letting these planning tools come in after the population, elected reps, and their experts have studied and compared all the possibilities? Although often in conflict, wisdom does beat efficiency in the long run, and libraries are certainly designed to be long-run community facilties.
And here’s another bizarre but common consideration: “A new library? Why? Can’t we just Google everything we’ll want to know?” Oh-oh. There is a Google Library Project with millions of volumes on-line, we understand.
Wait a minute, did we really say we want everything on-line?