Toronto Public Library Pilgrimage of 100 Branches

Libraries, the Sequel

In an earlier post I described the Toronto Public Libraries east of the Don Valley Parkway that I’ve visited. Now, after a pause that heightened suspense to unbearable levels, I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the Libraries West of the Don Valley that Catherine Has Visited!
Parliament–a spacious building on two floors, very helpful staff who once gave a large group of ESL students from my center an orientation (the nerd in me thrilled when so many students got their first shiny blue library cards), large ESL section, nice high windows.

Saint James Town–this is a fairly new library which is housed in one long room, lots of computers, feels very urban, part of a community centre complex that includes a busy basketball court.

City Hall–tucked away in a small room just to the right of the main entrance to City Hall, cozy yet important, pleasantly crowded.

Lillian H. Smith— what I remember most about this library is its circular staircase leading to an upper gallery.

High Park–a beautiful building with two floors, an ideal place to daydream because of its high ceilings, huge windows, and lots of wooden tables.

Palmerston–a low-key neighborhood venue in one room, not fancy but obviously well-used and in demand.

Spadina Road–roughly the same size and shape as Palmerston, its specialty an Aboriginal Studies section with lots of books and films, every table hosted studious patrons and newspaper browsers.

Yorkville–another busy downtown library, brisk pace, features stone lions at the entrance (if I remember rightly) and an upmarket book deposit box.

Toronto Reference Library–the first library in Toronto I ever visited (as a tourist in 2001), love the fountains and design, a fun experience is to ride the glass elevator to the fifth floor facing outwards so you can see the inner canyon expand as you rise and take in the opera-stage of silent readers. Have taken numerous class trips to the fifth floor to check out the large ESL section and the amazing collection of resources in a variety of languages, one summer helped a friend edit his English translation of Persian proverbs here.

Deer Park–when we immigrated to Canada in 2002, this was the library where I received my first card just a few days after arrival (Deer Park is across the street from the building where you line up for a SIN card, also we were staying in the Annex), a spacious library on one level with high ceilings, one time I saw a tired homeless man asleep in the reclining chair that rests on the floor by a low wall separating the children’s section from the main entryway.

Leaside–an active residential branch located on the edge of a large park, one long room, family-oriented, welcoming.

Northern District–just north of Eglinton and Yonge, this large district branch library is on two levels, has large periodicals and ESL section, top floor with lots of wall space for art exhibitions, sunny from generous number of windows.

Locke–elegant stone building, graceful interior with high ceilings and lots of sunlight, visited this branch after a trip to a nearby guitar store on Yonge Street.

Barbara Frum–a few summers ago I taught at a centre near Bathurst and Lawrence and visited this library before class one time, pleasing design in butterfly shape, you go in and find two round wings to the left and right and a center staircase leading up to the second floor. Enjoyed being there on that Friday afternoon as many families were gathering up books and hustling to get ready for the Sabbath–this branch had a warm community feel to it.

North York Central–I associate this branch with another class I taught, this one near Yonge and Finch, we had a fun class trip there one afternoon. The building is very large as befits a research and reference branch and is connected to a big shopping center, has impressive collection of ESL and foreign languages materials.

Bayview–another mall branch, its modest interior a contrast to the opulence of Bayview Mall, its design was interesting though. While the branch is contained in one room, there’s a deepening of the space as you walk through it, carpeted steps bring you lower, as if the place where you first walk in the door is the tile around a large pool and the steps take you into the actual pool. Lots of carpet, an 1980’s atmosphere similar to the Maryvale and Cliffcrest branches.

Fairview–near Fairview Mall, this library had the worn-down look of district branch under pressure from so many enthusiastic library patrons. It seemed about the same age as Albert Campbell Library and shared a similar designer, this was one of the busiest libraries I’ve visited, with every chair taken, every table space utilized, its two levels humming with life — study groups, individuals in private study rooms, newspaper and magazine readers, family groups– this truly is a vibrant library. To visit it is to be inspired by all those patrons following their dreams.

2 replies on “Libraries, the Sequel”

Just wanted to say, Go Catherine! – accept your anorak self and document those libraries. Can’t add a great deal to the list, tho’ I was in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow the other day. Much the same as you (probably) remember, and still has a nice cafe.

ok, this is just such a thrill for me to see you venture west of Yonge! I’m sincerely impressed by your quest to visit so many libraries. I love hearing of your impression and would like to request that you comment on the “used books for sale” setup at each libary! Lately that’s a real draw for me!

Keep writing, o’ talented one!


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