I am entering the Master of Library and Information Science degree with an interesting perspective as a Canadian living in Hungary. There are many similarities and differences between Hungarian and Canadian libraries. Here are some of my observations of Hungarian and Canadian public libraries:
Security: In Hungary, at least in the main branch of the Metropolitan Ervin Library, patrons are required to registrar as readers and scan their library card every time they enter stacks and reading rooms. They must check their coats in the coatroom and leave their larger bags and backpacks in the coatroom. While in Canada I cannot recall ever visiting a public library where you must be registered just to enter the stacks and reading rooms.
Cost to borrow materials: At Hungarian public libraries patrons must pay a fee to borrow libraries materials for a set period of time. For example it costs about $6 a year to borrow materials from my small local library; the Central Library of the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library costs about $25 per year to borrow materials. Canadian public libraries are free to local residents and others as well, such as local tax payers, to borrow most library materials.
Buildings: Both Hungarian and Canadian libraries are housed in a number of different types of buildings. The Central Library of the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library is housed in a castle (think Downton Abby type castle, not fortress type castle). While one of the branches at the Clarington Public Library, my local Canadian public library, is located in an old house.
Programing: Both Hungarian and Canadian libraries provide programs for both children and adults according to their needs. For example a branch library of the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library offered crafting lessons this summer, while the Clarington Public library offered film afternoons.
Overall purpose: From what I have observed both Hungarian and Canadian libraries strive to provide local residents with access to information via various media forms (books, audio visual materials, the web, etc.), as well as community programing that meets their patrons’ needs.
Reasons for differences: The differences between Hungarian and Canadian public libraries, in my opinion, come down to cultural differences. Our culture affects almost everything we do as a society and that includes public libraries.