“But do you LIKE me like me?”

As public cries for a new and improved central library increased in the Halifax Regional Municipality, the city’s decision makers were faced with a problem.

Granted, the Memorial Library was now so old that most people couldn’t remember what it was memorialing, but given the rise of the e-book and decline of paper publishing, the endangered status of the Voracious Reader –a species that once darkened the plains with its slouched and engrossed gait– and the fact that the ability to read at all no longer seemed to be a requirement for matriculation (look it up) into any institution of ‘higher’ education, the holders of the purse strings needed proof that there would actually be a demand for a new building before millions of dollars were sunk into its going over budget and behind schedule.

So they chose to test the determination of the Library’s users. For several weeks during the summer of 2011, the entrance of the building was cleverly hidden behind an almost impenetrable scaffolding, forcing determined patrons to climb in through windows, heating ducts, and, if they were small enough, after-hours book return chutes. The experiment was a rousing success for the Library, as resolute readers and bold bibliomaniacs used all manners of tool and strategy to access the sacred stacks. Some lives were lost to the automated portcullis just inside the scaffolding, but as the casualties were restricted to those stubborn and unimaginative enough to insist on using the front door, the costs were considered more than acceptable.

Still, the city plans to continue to test the ongoing, real-world demand for library services even after the new location is built.

Hence, the moat.

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