Last night I walked from my house to Liberty Square Shopping Plaza to check out the freshly renovated Kennedy/Eglinton branch. Architects had transformed the seedy bar that used to sit beside the library into an extension housing a computer lab, community room, reading lounge and automated checkout area. More than doubling the space, the expansion and overall renovation has made Kennedy/Eglinton Library almost unrecognizable. What was once a cramped outpost of learning is now a spacious and handsome establishment that has taken Liberty Sqaure to a much better place.
From the polished tiles in the new entryway to the shiny surface of the computer counters, the entire enterprise radiated concern to offer the best facilities available. Complemented by a dark orange and brown colour-scheme, Kennedy/Eglinton had many textured spaces, corners, and rooms. The variety of furniture included armchairs, a study nook with a three-cornered bench, inviting long benches, and a window seat in the children’s section.
Patrons of all ages had come out to experience the new library, and almost every table, computer and study area was in use. As I wandered through the rooms, impressed by how alive the place was, I appreciated the linguistic diversity reflected in nearby shelves of materials in Chinese, Tamil, and Hindi. The quietest room in the library that evening was the community room, where an empty silver square smeared with blue and white icing lay on the sink counter.
Overcoming minor cake disappointment, I mentally thanked the Toronto Public Library system for this expanded branch in my neighbourhood. Built in 1988, I feel certain that Kennedy/Eglinton has always been the busy, friendly library I’ve known since 2002. But the building’s transformation has not only improved its looks; it actually makes the area feel better and safer. I used to feel intimidated to walk over to the library at night and drop off books because bar patrons would be perched on the outside window ledges of the library, ignoring signs that said, “Do not sit near the drop box.” I feel relieved that a former tavern tarnished by reports of serious assault is now a place of learning and community sanctuary. Long may its light shine!