Sociologist, local councillor, activist from Malta

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Library instead of Parliament

Today's newspaper Illum reports that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is seriously considering using Renzo Piano's new Valletta building for another use, instead of Parliament. Renzo Piano is reported as saying that this is possible.

If this is the case, I think that the building could host Malta's national library, thus raising the profile of reading through state-of-the-art interactive facilities. The library would be a symbol of social interaction, and a hub of learning. This would be a prime investment in education, literacy, e-learning and community building.

In a country with low levels of reading and relatively high levels of illiteracy, a library in such a prestigious site would symbolize that the capital city belongs to the people and enhances empowerment.

6 comments:

Robert Mizzi said...

I hope this happens and that we do have a public library there. A proper state of the art public library with all the modern facilities including spaces for events, exhibitions etc.

Anonymous said...

That would be a brilliant idea ,and what about the Government organising events to entice people to want to read and write !tr

Laurence Zerafa Secretary MaLIA said...

Mike thanks for this. Originally way back in June 2009 at the time that Renzo PIano was about to unveil his plans for city gate (28 June 2009) The Times in an interview with Renzo Piano quotes his as saying that "The building will not only house Parliament but a public library too, as suggested by a group [MaLIA] that joined the fray ... This library would have been at Republic Street level. You can still read this interview here http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20090622/local/a-magic-city-in-a-magic-island.262038. For some reason this 'Library' project was dropped and there was talk of 'Museum of Political Development'. To date, to my knowledge, it is still not clear what the space beneath Parliament will be put to use for.

D.A.Agius said...

I believe the building should still house Parliament.

I don't believe the office problem is enough of an issue when in reality, tomorrow's office sits comfortably in an iPad and they can do their backroom work (and underhand deals) anywhere.

Housing a National Library is a good idea but the reality is what it is and a library won't change it. Libraries are already everywhere and the National Library is already housed in a prestigious building.

What could be done for such a project however could be to look at the remaining part of the 1960's city gate project, the shopping arcade (and housing project above) and make the next step towards improving the entry to Valletta and at the same time return it to the people in general (at least the shopping arcade area if the housing project is untouchable).

Anonymous said...

The footprint of the building is clearly too small to host a Parliament building which nowadays requires not just the main Chamber, but also a number of committee rooms and space for parliamentary staff, research analysts, a parliamentary library, committee chairman offices etc.

Unfortunately, a part of the building which is already built can only be used as a parliamentary chamber, and this severely limits what one can do with the rest of it...

Robert Mizzi said...

@ D.A. Agius. You are of course entitled to your opinion but allow me to comment on a couple of points you raised.

1. tomorrow's office sits comfortably in an iPad - nearly 20 years ago, someone had announced the paperless office. This has not materialised for the simple reason that organisations continue to produce papers and the public sector in Malta even more so. I've spent 23 years working there and there was no sign of the paperless office when I left in 2010.

2. Libraries are already everywhere and the National Library is already housed in a prestigious building - agreed but this building should house a public library and not the national library which as you say has a dedicated building. Public Libraries may indeed be everywhere but surely our capital city deserves a modern public library that would change the perceptions of people about libraries - i.e. that the reality is what it is.