UW president David Johnston in "Ten goals for the region’s success" The Record, September 22, 2006, missed an essential in making Waterloo Region the Knowledge Capital of Canada – libraries. You need great libraries to support all kinds of research and for the provision of adequate access, both to information about the availability of materials and the physical materials themselves if the region is going to become the Knowledge Capital of Canada.
Examine Boston (Johnston’s proposed model) and you find a wealth of library resources Kitchener Waterloo just can’t match. The Boston Regional Library System has 33 academic libraries including both the University of Massachusetts and Northeastern University, 3 large public libraries including Boston Public, 44 school libraries and 70 special libraries as members. These libraries actually co-operate with each other! Libraries in and around Boston hold some of the world’s great research collections. The oldest and largest American university library at Harvard with over 10 million volumes is within easy communing distance.
Knowledge–creation must build on what is already known. It may explore the unexplored , involve laboratory experimentation or the study of the collections in galleries and museums but research always depends in part and often wholly on libraries. The results of research are reported in written, printed or other records that libraries collect, organize, and make available to scholars.
The top "goal" on David Johnston’s list should be to improve our libraries and library co-operation. A very high priority needs to be given to the creation of a Kitchener-Waterloo automated Union Catalogue. All libraries in the region must provide access to their reference and research collections and services to supplement the resources of every other library in the region. A system of full-text retrieval capability must be provided region-wide, and each library should provide a document delivery service for journal articles held in their own collections or available through other sources. There should be full reciprocal borrowing without restrictions between all the public libraries. There should be a region wide daily courier service between all branch libraries including academic, public, school and special libraries. Co-operative purchasing also deserves a high priority as well as co-operation in site choice for new libraries. We also need to build on our electronic network and tie together the various networks and electronic resources we currently have . There must be one gateway to the complete electronic information resources of the Region accessible free to all residents of the region.
Five objectives for making the Region the Knowledge Capital of Canada:
1. Provide excellent library and informational services for education at all levels.
2. Provide excellent free library and informational services for all regardless of where in the region they reside.
3. Provide materials and collections to support research in all fields at all levels.
4. Provide top level automated bibliographic access to all the region’s research and informational resources.
5. Provide free physical access to all the region’s research and informational resources to every resident of the region.
We need an Regional Library Authority like the Boston Regional Library System to achieve these objectives. All Libraries in the region should be full members with an equal vote. It can’t go far wrong in adopting the BRLS mission statement "The Mission of the Regional Services Program is to improve the delivery of library services to individuals of all ages, educational levels, and economic backgrounds."