Please take a moment to recall the best materials that you have read and think of the enjoyment that you have obtained from those texts. Reading is a process that some people take for granted, however, its availability must be protected and fostered with its opportunities being made readily available in all communities.

Reading is one of life’s pleasures that is attainable to most people. It is something that can be done almost anywhere at any time. One of the multitudes of reasons why I love reading is that it can be done during my selected times, involve my choices of literature and it carries me on my desired journeys. To me a book can be like a sunrise, different from others but still beautiful in its own unique fashion because it enables a person to wonder what lies ahead.

My thoughts today deal with the pleasures of reading and the open library project being piloted at Guysborough’s Cyril Ward Memorial Library (CWML). Being a regular user of the CWML, I have reservations about the intent of Eastern countries regional library (ECRL) with their attempts to introduce automation into the CWML’s availability to it users.

Regarding CWML’s admission-scan process, I have tried unsuccessfully on two occasions to use my electronic pass card to gain entry and had it replaced once – to no avail – to correct its failure to enable me to enter during non-staffed hours. I have also gone to the CWML on a couple of instances during its posted open hours, and sadly, found it unstaffed.

I am not against the use of technology to improve services, however, I share the opinion about the open library project as expressed by Don Armstrong in a Letter to the Editor: “The real reason behind this seems to be saving money on staff salaries. Money was spent on new technology and long distance travel by ECRL staff, but not spent on librarians for the Cyril Ward Library.”

I was told that two ECRL staff members went to Europe to review how the open library automated procedure worked. International travel for its staff makes me very skeptical about the ECRL’s transparency and intent.

It is my firm belief that a library must be more than a storage building for books and computers, it needs staff within to greet, to assist, to discuss, to be innovative and to receive suggestions and concerns. People are social creatures and as such must not be subjected to attempts to depersonalize their activities. Libraries require people because being in the company of others enhances such community facilities.

When I have visited the Antigonish town and county library “People’s Place Library” and the Halifax Central Library, I marveled at what those communities have made available for their residents. While I realize the economic realities of living in my region of Nova Scotia, I believe that the ECRL must do more “thinking outside of the box” to encourage patrons to support and use its facilities.

One of the oldest arguments given for cutting back on services is to state that they are being underused, all the while with only weak attempts being put forth to support their existences.

Reading is a pleasurable activity that takes time, requires effort and needs constant promotion and support. I hope that as our society advances, the excitement of the written word does not get diminished by the hype and promotion of electronic media and technology, or worse, that people cease to support and to frequent their community libraries so as to enjoy the services they are being offered.

Ray Bates