As a confirmed bibliophile, it only makes sense that my B post for Montreal has to be about the Bibliothèque Nationale (aka Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, aka BAnQ, aka Grande Bibliothèque).

The first thing I will mention is that the name translates to “National Library,” which is odd, seeing as Quebec is not, itself, a nation – nor is Montreal the nation’s capital. (Quick geography lesson: Quebec is a province within the nation of Canada, whose capital is Ottawa.) However, you should certainly NOT mention this to your Quebecois friends, as you will immediately get an earful about Quebec nationalism, secession, and perhaps even a history lesson on the origins of Quebec’s “Je me souviens” license plates. You have been warned.

Barring all of this backstory, the Bibliothèque Nationale is actually quite a stylish, modern glass building in Montreal that provides a home for a metric ton of books.

Bibliothèque Nationale (photo via Patkau Architects)

Bibliothèque Nationale (photo via Patkau Architects)

Scads of books. Mountains of books. Cathedrals of books!

Most of them are, of course, en français. This is, after all, Quebec. If you’re looking for English-language books in the Montreal library system, your best bets are:

  • Atwater Library
  • Concordia University’s two libraries – Webster in the Library Building at the downtown Sir George Williams campus, and Vanier at the west-end Loyola campus
  • McGill University Library
  • Westmount Library

Question of the day: What’s your favorite book or author that starts with the letter B?

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