Toronto Public Library Pilgrimage of 100 Branches

A Walking Tour of Urban Affairs, Sanderson, and College/Shaw Branches

A few days after the Mount Pleasant Library visit, I walked from the Eaton Centre to Ossington and Bloor, taking in three libraries along the way.

The first library I visited that day was Urban Affairs inside Metro City Hall. A blue and green banner alerted me to its presence, and I walked up a short flight of stairs into the quiet.

Judging from its silence and spaciousness, this branch was clearly more of a research than a community library (although there were lots of helpful leaflets about community events strewn about the tops of cabinets). With Urban Affair’s special Toronto Collection, microfilm machines, law and legislation section, and stacks of urban-themed magazines and journals, it reminded me of a time in my life when I was consumed with postgraduate research. (I used to spend hours in the University of Glasgow Library and other research libraries in Edinburgh, Leeds, and Cambidge when I was writing a Ph.D. thesis about Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son).

I admired Urban Affairs’ extra-wide tables, four appealing study rooms, meeting room, and the view of the busy intersection of John and Wellington. A few sleepers could be discovered face down in their papers, their breathing only mildly affecting the hush that was sometimes broken by the rustle of turning pages and the tapping of keyboards.

It was slightly disorienting to be in a Toronto library with no movie section, no ESL shelves, no storytelling schedules or librarians trying to herd patrons into a single line. The no-nonsense atmosphere didn’t encourage me to linger, but I was very sad when Urban Affairs closed in 2011. I would have liked to have had the chance to take some photographs of this serene branch.

The next two libraries I saw on my 2008 walking tour, Sanderson and College/Shaw, had very different vibes from Urban Affairs. Please click on the name-links in the previous sentence to see updated posts of these two branches!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *