Chilliwack had its first look at plans for a new south side library Wednesday evening.
And while the open house occurred after The Progress had gone to press, it seems likely that the building will stir some debate.
Inevitably, these kinds of projects do. People grumble about their taxes, complain about a pothole, then ask why the city is spending money on something like this.
What a shame.
A library in the south end of town is an addition to the infrastructure landscape that should be welcomed. It will be a community resource that will complement existing services and fill a gap that has long needed filling.
The location, near the corner of Tyson and Cumberland, seems a perfect spot. Its proximity to Twin Rinks and Watson Glen Park will make it a destination for families.
While the kids are at hockey practice, or at their figure skating lessons, parents can be at the library with the younger siblings checking out the children’s section.
And that’s important. Reading, from an early age, promotes literacy skills that are so necessary to success in life. It encourages a fondness for books that helps foster creativity and curiosity.
But access is key. Libraries offer a collection far more vast than anything we can accumulate on our own. And while the downtown branch is an excellent facility, its not practical to expect it to continue accommodating Chilliwack’s growing population.
Yes, there are other needs in this city. But a library is not just an institution for the here and now. It is something for the generations to come.
As the late Carl Sagan said, “I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.”