Thursday, June 11, 2009

IMPAC Dublin surprise! + quick update from Ottawa

Man Gone Down, by first-time American novelist, Michael Thomas, has catapulted ahead of Philip Roth, Doris Lessing, Junot Diaz, Joyce Carol Oates and others to win the IMPAC Dublin prize. Yes, that's €100,000 (£85,000). The Guardian reports he is "currently a professor at Hunter College in New York," and that "he said he'd use his winnings to pay some bills."

I love it when the underdog wins!

Meanwhile, in Alex-land, today was my first day back at my branch after a 2-week hiatus (CLA, vacay, meeting in Toronto, training). It's been wild, which I expected, but also a pleasure to be back, which I didn't expect. Unfortunately, I have a splitting headache, which is probably due to the wild part.

Yesterday, I amused myself at a press conference for the annoucement of the site of the new Central Library for Ottawa. My own report from the morning is here; other (real) news reports are here (Citizen), here (Metro news), here (CBC) and ici (Le Droit).

I wasn't too impressed with the CBC article, which quotes a patron outside Main Library as saying "he'd be sad to see the old building go." I think it's not by any means "fine as it is." Of course, some people will always say they don't see the importance of a new library branch, Central or otherwise, but this is a long-time library user. Argh.

I think part of this sentiment involves the mentality that, despite being a national capital, Ottawa is seen by Ottawans as a very "fine as it is" city. Our urban design doesn't strive for greatness, or even uniqueness. We seem to throw buildings up willy-nilly, letting development companies get away with whatever (ahem), and only ever asking for adequate spaces.

Let's take a chance or two with the new Central Library, and help set the tone for Ottawa as an awe-inspiring national capital!

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