Libraries are a precious asset
Your back-page essay by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett on the need for libraries (3 November) speaks volumes. Anyone who is deaf to the growing popularity of libraries in an era of advancing technology has obviously not visited one recently.
How else can one account for the 34 million users of New York City’s 212 branches in 2016, or the almost 10,000 visitors each day to Montreal’s bilingual Grande Bibliothèque, touted as the most frequented library in North America?
Besides offering free, quiet and comfortable havens stocked with hard-copy and digital resources that promote literacy, libraries exist as community hubs where young and old can meet to share the riches that their hard-earned taxes have provided them. It is more than ingenious, then, that in New York there is a move to enlarge local branches and build low-rent housing in the floors above them, thereby tackling two of the biggest problems of urban life: limited access to lifelong learning, and the burden of homelessness and poverty. Richard Orlando Westmount, Quebec, Canada
• Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett failed to note that the biggest advantage of the public library is the restriction on the borrowing time for a book to three weeks (my Canadian experience). Far from a negative restriction, this forces me to begin reading soon after withdrawing the book and to finish it in the time available. Many books I have bought remain in my bookshelf for months or years because there is no pressure to read them. Tim Moore Ottawa, Ontario, Canada