Winnepeg has a population of nearly 600,000, of which 413,513 residents have library cards. Traffic at the city’s Millenium Hub has increased 50 percent in just the past year, reaching 1.5 million visitors. Winnepegers can’t get enough. Why? According to Winnepeg blogger Morley Walker, in part its because of the recent renovations to the library building itself, but it’s also due to the fact that the library is turning int a true information hub of the modern age.
“It also has a lot to do with the astonishing volume of information libraries now make accessible, largely through the computer,” writes Walker. “Less than a year ago, the WPL added something it calls the Canadian Newsstand to its online database. This gives library-card holders free access to the digital archives of 19 Canadian newspapers, including the Winnipeg Free Press, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. Another service, the Canadian Reference Centre, provides full-text articles from 150 Canadian and 400 international periodicals. The Rosetta Stone service offers online courses, complete with illustrations, in 30 languages. For Chinese speakers, thereâ€™s Dragonsource, a database of Chinese-language newspaper and magazines. The Naxos Music service provides streaming audio for 165,000 tracks from classical, jazz, pop and folk CDs. The Auto Repair Reference Centre provides detailed instructions on some 23,000 makes and models of cars.
“All this is free with your library card â€” which itself is free to all city residents.”