have you seen part one?


while i was in quebec city a week and a half ago, montreal's new grande bibliothèque opened. it's a large library that combines city of montreal's central collection and the national collection of quebec. there are 1.26 million books here, not including the audio, film, visual and other documents. (you can check out the library's website here.)

the new building is located in the latin quarter, next to the université du québec and on top of the city's busiest metro station. i personally think its exterior is hideous, but the interior is so fantastic i'm willing to forgive that. this is everything a central library should be: bright, easy to navigate and comfortable with a plethora of places to sit. it feels like home even though it's only been open for a week. it's extremely well-used, too: both times i've visited, there have been hundreds of people perusing books, listening to music, working and researching and surfing the web on the library's free wireless internet. the library's hours are good, too. while they vary from collection to collection, the ground floor with its magazines and newly-arrived books is open daily until midnight.

so if the interior's so great, why is the exterior so bad? i didn't take any photos of it because the lighting was bad, so you'll have to head over to the library's website to see for yourself. it wouldn't look out of place in an industrial park, though. still, there are a couple of positive aspects: the small plaza out front is a nice place to sit (although it needs bike parking -- when i visited today there were at least three dozen bikes chained all over the place) and, most intriguingly, the ground level of the library alongside an adjacent alley contains many small retail spaces that will be used for an open-air used book market.

thursday, may 5, 2005

an UQAM building on maisonneuve across from the library's main entrance.

after entering into the airy grand hall, i pass into the actual library and head up the stairs.

the map collection includes a cool giant map photocopier.

the line for memberships is long...

tuesday, may 10, 2005

a reminder of where 450,000 of the new library's books came from.

time for the views. this is looking northeast; the ugly building in the foreground is montreal's main bus station. it will be demolished to make way for a $300-million UQAM project that will include a university hall, student residences and an office tower.

this is the main plaza at the corner of berri and maisonneuve.

looking across berri square to the rather unfortunate place dupuis office/retail/hotel complex.

the western edge of the library has a hall-cum-sitting area. its windows have a good view of the back balconies across the alley.

one floor up, there's a decent view of some downtown buildings.

on the fourth floor is the audio-visual collection. it resembles a music shop, complete with listening stations.

that's it for now -- expect to see much more of this library in the future. my first loans? two CDs, one by nick drake and the other by fela kuti.


thursday, may 5, 2005

park and bernard, on the way down to the library.

st-denis and maisonneuve, exactly one block from the library's main entrance.

about a mile down ste-catherine and we're on the place ville-marie terrasse, looking down at the taxi stand on cathcart.

christ, even schlubby-looking businessmen have digital cameras now.

montreal forumers, i heartily recommend the indian restaurant on st-laurent between sherbrooke and ontario, right next to the anarchist bookstore. it has two items on the menu: meat thali or veggie thali. the latter, for $7, comes with eight selections of goodness, plus naan and a papadum.

sunday, may 8, 2005

a few evening shots from outremont.

tuesday, may 10, 2005

it was hot today -- about 27C or 80F. we start at place-des-arts where my girlfriend, the illustrious mlle. laine, and i sat in the shade and celebrated our time off.

two iced coffees, a BBQ pork bun, shrimp dumpling and red bean bun later...

on st-denis in the latin quarter, heading back to the library so laine could see it for the first time.

after a couple of hours in the library, we head up st-denis.

a few blocks later, we're at the carré st-louis.

then we ran into a friend and talked with him for a bit.