Toronto Public Library Pilgrimage of 100 Branches

And now for Goldhawk Park, Steeles, and Bridlewood branches

The previous post described the first two libraries out of the five Stewart and I visited a couple of weeks ago, so now I’d like to focus on the remaining three.

Goldhawk Park branch resided in its own square building and seemed less trendy than Woodside Square. However, Goldhawk Park’s location on the edge of a large park gave it a scenic advantage, as Woodside patrons had only a Food Basics parkingscape for inspiration when they looked up from their books. So much reading in my childhood may have made me fanciful, but to me Goldhawk Park looked like a chalet of books in marginally-alpine village on the Markham border. Resting on the rim of a pasture dotted with fir trees, the chalet offered a chair and a newspaper to weary literary pilgrims.

As I made a quick tour of the facility, I accidentally disturbed a seniors’ coffee afternoon in progress. Recovering my cool after a swift exit from the meeting room, I sat down at a table in front of a park-side window. When I had my fill of admiring the vast open field with blowing snow, I walked through the main area, noting the shelves of books in Hindi, Tamil, and Chinese. All in all, I liked the unpretentious and comfortable atmosphere of Goldhawk Park.

Pushing on to Steeles Library, the peaceful natural setting gave way to the insanely busy parking lot of Bamburgh Gardens Shopping Plaza. Stewart dropped me off and heroically went to find a parking space while I investigated the fourth library of the afternoon.

Steeles branch was located on the left side of a concrete walkway leading to the mall. Steeles was very compact, and the homey impression created by its lime green walls was taken up a notch by the presence of several stuffed creatures on top of a high shelf: a gorilla, tweety bird, and Marvin the Martian. Similarly to Woodside Square, Steeles had lots of Chinese New Year decorations and an enthusiastic crowd of library-users, with nearly every chair occupied by a reader. It made me happy to see so many folks consuming words instead of mall-products.

The fifth and final library of the day, Bridlewood, was a tenant of a mall with the same name. This branch was a big white square room around the corner from the bulk food store and Jasmine Chinese Food. In comparison to Malvern and Woodside Square, Bridlewood appeared more downmarket due to its handmade decorations and non-automated check-out desk. In this respect, Bridlewood reminded me of the library in the small town where I grew up, especially when I saw the large paper snowflake cut out by hand and a poster made from black construction paper and photocopies of cartoons.

The most prominently low-budget decoration had to be a rocket that hung from the ceiling near the youth section. A roll of brown construction paper formed the body of the rocket, and more of the same kind of paper had been fashioned into the pointy head of the missile. The initials “TPL” were written on the side beside a blue globe, each letter cut from brown paper with a larger outline of the letters in aluminum foil as background. Yet more aluminum foil flared out in streamers from the hind end of the rocket. Though I believe the time may have come to retire this particular ornament, I do agree that reading can transport you around the world and even into space.

Apart from the rocket, other noteworthy features of Bridlewood branch included a blue toadstool table, books in Chinese and Urdu, and a romance title “Beauty and the Beastly Rancher.” I didn’t check out the romance novel to learn what made the rancher so beastly, but I was very glad of this beautiful Saturday afternoon spent at five great libraries. As the number of Toronto Public Libraries I’ve visited continues to skyrocket (now up to 59!), I grow more and more impressed with the wonderful services they provide to local communities. It makes me proud to carry my blue library card in my wallet! Long may the TPL flourish!

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