Before the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) first opened its doors in 2006, it had been, at that point, over a decade since I had been to a library that wasn’t built into a school. I remember being super psyched to visit this huge building the first week. The building is modern and, as I discovered, has a large variety of seating, some in almost-secret nooks.
Oh, and the top floor of the BAnQ houses music and visual media. The DVD section is always packed with people trying to find gems. The most impressive, though, is the CD collection. Imagine rows and rows of many different genres of music — real variety you wouldn’t expect from a government institution, not just “world” and “pop”.
Coming back to the original mainstay of libraries — books, I don’t know if you fellow Anglo Montrealers know it, but there are a ton of English books there. Cool ones, in fact. Like “Print Liberation” (DIY silk screening), or “The Boss of You” (sassy entrepreneurship for women). Actually, I was surprised to find these titles in their IRIS catalogue because they’re both recently published books. Nevertheless, I was glad to leaf through these books for free, because I have a habit of just buying books online — sight unseen. I’ve since decided that both books would make great additions to my book shelf.
Can’t find the title you’re looking for? You can submit media (books, DVDs, music, etc) purchase suggestions to the BAnQ via their website, here. If you include your email address, they’ll follow up with a form letter letting you know whether the suggestion will be purchased or not. I’m very proud to boast that every book suggestion I’ve submitted, about 15 since 2006, has been accepted. These include the Stitch and Bitch series and other craft books.
In conclusion, if you think libraries are dull, check out the BAnQ. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.