Palmerston Library, a modest-sized branch just west of Bathurst on Bloor, was a relaxing place to spend a couple of hours in the city. Numerous fellow Torontonians shared my sentiment, as the main room was filled to capacity with readers and web-surfers.
On my first visit in 2009, I noticed a lot of square angles and white paint at Palmerston, but what saved it from being overly institutional was a display of Summer Reading Club illustrations near the entrance. These pictorial book reports featured time machines, fire engines, the three little pigs, a dragon, and a “vacation under the volcano.” (Talk about an edgy holiday!)
To the left of the entrance, a wizard kite flew overhead in a floppy purple hat that was part-toque, part-nightcap. Wire-rim spectacles and a long gray beard reinforced his scholarly image, as did the tucking of his hands into drawn-on sleeves. (The wizard’s arms were no more than suggestions; they served as the kite’s side flaps). The rest of the wizard’s body was one very long purple swoosh of kite material, spanning the children’s section diagonally. I missed the wizard when I returned to the branch yesterday to take photographs, but I know he served the branch well in his time.
When it initially opened, Palmerston was a children’s library. Almost forty years later, the kids’ books are still plentiful, including lots of French ones, but I was surprised to find loose bare sofa cushions on the floor instead of window seats and other amenities common in the majority of branches I’ve visited. (I’m happy to report that a 2010 renovation improved the children’s area a lot; I noticed a big difference on my second visit).
The adult section offered lots of Korean materials and some Spanish ones. Also, a small Local History Collection displayed titles such as The Riot at Christie Pits, The Annex, and Honest Ed Mirvish: How to Build an Empire on an Orange Crate.
I couldn’t see Honest Ed‘s corny brilliance from my table near the computers, but I did enjoy the view of the back of some red brick buildings along Bloor. They reminded me of the rear view of late 19th century storefronts in my Midwestern hometown’s square.
Before I left Palmerston to meet a friend, I wanted to see the basement level which housed a meeting room and theatre. However, the door was locked, possibly because no specific events were scheduled for that day. Not overly daunted, I tucked a DVD biography of Charles Darwin into my backpack and joined the pedestrian traffic along Bloor.