As someone who lives and works in Langley, I am appalled by the behavior I have seen from so-called “community groups” in regards to the Langley Library remodel. What should have been an extremely generous improvement to the existing location and the services it offers has devolved into playground politics and elitist mindsets. There have been numerous discussions about preserving the historic nature of the building, but these are merely thinly-veiled arguments based around personal aesthetics.
The library does not exist for the sake of ornamental value. The library is and will continue to serve its community as it has for decades to the best of its abilities. However, current limitations faced by people who spend the majority of their days working in the building have been expressed but are being put by the wayside in favor of discussions from outside groups, many of whom spend little to no time in the library itself.
There seems to be the misconception that libraries are moving away from being centered around books. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Libraries seek to expand the literacy of communities and remain steadfast in that mission despite the odds. Libraries do not fit the same model as they did in the past, but expanding services does not mean neglecting the foundations of its institution; it simply means evolving along with society.
The amount of misinformation that spread throughout this process, despite the library putting forth as much information as it possibly can, still runs rampant in the community. A few choice comments that are available to the public as shocking as they are sobering, and shows a very skewed perspective from the extremely privileged side of Langley that has decided they alone get to control what the town looks like, even if that means ignoring marginalized voices. Yet the majority of comments are extremely positive and show support and trust in the library’s choices.
There seems to be a very disheartening trend of wishing not just the library, but Langley as a whole only opening its doors to those who can afford it. Wishing to move the children’s area or the bike rack simply because it does not serve one individual is a decision that can be made when building a personal dwelling, not a community building.
The key word is community. Community does not mean the loudest voices in the room wishing to steamroll and bully others into fitting the project into a box they’ve deemed fit. Community means everyone; children, people facing homelessness and disabilities, teenagers, families, and individuals who all come to the library with different goals and expectations. Their voices matter.
Final thought: during the pandemic, people came to the library. With the recent (and past) power outages, people came to the library. Trust the people that work in the libraries to move forward in a way that allows them to do their job to the best of their abilities and continue to serve the community.