Sandra Singh

VANCOUVER Public Library is No. 1.

Scholars at Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf have named the public libraries in Vancouver and Montreal as the No. 1 libraries in world cities – topping a lengthy list that includes libraries in New York, Boston, London, Barcelona, Los Angeles and Toronto.

Researchers in the university’s department of information science analyzed the services and spaces – digital and physical – of public libraries in 31 major centres around the world, exploring how they support the digital, learning and creative fabric of their cities.

Vancouver and Montreal libraries were tied for the top spot. Libraries in Chicago, San Francisco, Shanghai and Toronto rounded out the top five in the research, which was published in this month’s edition of Libri: International Journal of Libraries and Information Services.

“Vancouver is a world-class city and we’re extremely pleased and humbled to be recognized as a top world-class library,” says VPL Chief Librarian Sandra Singh.

“It’s gratifying to be in such esteemed library company, and we’re excited to be playing a part in highlighting Vancouver on the world map through our work supporting an informed, engaged and connected city.”

This newly published work from the Dusseldorf university is just the latest research highlighting VPL’s role in supporting Vancouver and its residents.

A new survey from Mustel Group conducted for VPL earlier this fall, for instance, illustrates that VPL is essential to learning and development in Vancouver.

That survey found that 78 per cent of Vancouverites have visited the library in the last year; that’s an increase from 74 per cent in 2010.

Among other highlights: 62 per cent of residents say they would simply not read the books they do if they couldn’t borrow them from VPL; 49 per cent would not be able to enjoy the movies or music they do without VPL.

VPL has overwhelming support from residents, suggests the survey data: 94 per cent support spending tax dollars to continue library services even if they don’t use the library themselves. This is solely owing to the benefits the library provides to the community.

“This kind of recognition is wonderful, but we couldn’t have this kind of impact in the community without support from the City of Vancouver, our board, our committed staff and our patrons,” says Singh.

“We’re ending 2013 on a high note of some major local and international recognition, and there are many outstanding initiatives coming from VPL in 2014. Stay tuned.”