The two most important tangible assets of being a resident of Montreal or its suburban area, are for me the Opus and library card, mostly because of the high degree of mobility they provide you with: using the "Bibliotheque de Montreal" card, you have access to all of the libraries in the city, while the Opus card helps you circulate by bus and metro throughout all the STM area.
...Of course, I highly value the second one because of its gratuity (you only need an ID and proof of address to get it). The regular fee of the Opus card is 82 dollars per month, with special prices for students under 26 or for pensioners.
So, how great is it to have access to every single library in the city and be able to consult any resources it offers? Books, DVDs, magazines. How awesome do you find it that your kids can be around books anytime, especially in winter or on rainy days? To discover the specifics of every neighbourhood and be able to benefit from the activities offered? Did you know for example that NDG's Intercultural Library celebrates a different culture each month (Romanian, this April)? That the library of Parc-Ex has a section of books in Greek? Or that the Banq also offers Russian or Romanian books? For both adults and kids. Or story time for kids in a looot of languages. Or about the option to borrow musical instruments from certain libraries, for free? Starting with this year. Here's a list of participating locations.
Living with books from an early age helps children grow into more open-minded individuals, always eager to be informed. It enriches their vocabulary and contributes to their success in school or later in life. Moreover, through their teenage years, book lovers become more independent and self-confident. Teenagers who read are creating their own reality, being less concerned about the acceptance of their peers. I bet Rory Gilmore would agree.
So, in an attempt to instil a passion for reading in my children, we try to spend as much time as possible in local libraries, taking advantage of my precious card. Although, I admit, we haven't participated to any "Story time" sessions yet, I plan to do it someday, at least with my youngest (now 3).
Please allow me to explain how Montreal's library system works: everyone can own a library card, no matter the age. All that matters is that the person possesses a paper that proves the identity and one to indicate the his/her address. After the card is ready, the owner has to set up a password (6 numeral digits) in order to identify himself and borrow books on the computer provided. The process is very simple: the book is scanned and then it appears on the person's account. The computer screen then shows how many books there are borrowed. At the end, a receipt is printed to show the books' return date. Every member of the library can borrow up to 26 books for three weeks and renew them for a maximum of three times. The return can be made to no matter what library in the system. In summer, the deadline to return a book increases to six weeks. DVDs can be kept for less time: one week throughout the year.
More than that, all libraries in the city are connected to Ville de Montreal's internet system, that everyone can access for free.
An exception from this rule would be the BANQ where you need a special card to borrow books, access the internet of reserve a study room. Also to access BANQ's internet, you will need your user ID and password.