Two Canadian cities have world’s best public libraries, survey finds

Two Canadian cities, Vancouver and Montreal, have the world’s best public library systems, according to a new survey by German researchers.

Library mavens at the Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf studied libraries in 31 major world cities, from London and Los Angeles, and from Shanghai to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Los Angeles finished in the middle of the pack in the ranking (16th), which took into account the wide array of services that libraries provide to their readers, including availability of printed books and digital information.

Two U.S. library systems finished third and fourth: Chicago and San Francisco. And the very bottom of the rankings were London (30th) and Dubai (31st).


“Vancouver is a world-class city and we’re extremely pleased and humbled to be recognized as a top world-class library,” Vancouver’s chief librarian Sandra Singh told the Province. “It’s gratifying to be in such esteemed library company...”

The New York Public Library system (ranked 9th overall), scored at the top in terms of digital services, while Montreal was judged to have the best physical facilities and book collection. But Dubai scored at the bottom of both categories, with judges saying they were surprised to find a a mere 10 PCs for patrons.

“This old-fashioned public library is in stark contrast to the glittering face of Dubai,” the report said.

The researchers also took into account the library systems’ efforts to reach out to readers. The New York and Los Angeles systems were the two most active libraries on Twitter. But the Vancouver library Twitter feed was quite active too.

“Short day, long night. Bright night,” the library tweeted Friday morning. “The Winter Solstice Lantern Festival, tomorrow.”

A recent survey conducted for the Vancouver library found that 78% of Vancouverites have visited the library in the last year.


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