Whispering among the books

There’s something about a church that makes people want to whisper, and it seems even more appropriate to do so when a church becomes a library.

The Bibliotheque Saint-Jean-Baptiste is located in the former St. Matthew’s Anglican Church on rue St. Jean in Quebec City. The church was built in 1848 in a Neo-Gothic style and consecrated in 1897. However, by the 1970s, the church closed and was purchased by the City of Quebec for use as a library.

After major renovations and preservation work, the library opened in 1980 as part of the Quebec City public library system. Much of the character of the former church was retained, including the stained glass windows, the marble baptismal font, and the choir and altar in the nave.

The pews have been replaced with book shelves, but there’s still a sense of reverence about the space that makes one want to speak in low tones. I found myself doing just that during my visit, and thought more libraries should be located in former churches – librarians wouldn’t need to say “Shhh!” anymore.