Toronto Public Library Pilgrimage of 100 Branches

Riverdale’s 100th Birthday Celebration!

Riverdale Library received a successful makeover in time for its 100th Birthday Party yesterday. The interior’s natural beauty was enhanced by two gorgeous bouquets that greeted the crowds who streamed into the transformed branch. I joined a large audience gathered around a portable podium and listened to a few speeches. Regular library-users were weaving through stationary clumps of listeners, dodging photographers in their struggle to reach the shelves and the newly relocated check-out desk. The old desk had been moved to the opposite wall and slightly north, creating more room for a larger computer lab and reading lounge.

The Children’s Section had also undergone quite a few changes since my last visit in June. The entrance was much more colourful thanks to a new sign supported by two columns constructed from enormous building blocks. A new set of red tables displayed the evidence of active library use, and shiny purple shelves provided incentive to investigate the materials they contained.

Following up on my previous account of Paddington Bear’s condition, I can happily report that he has been released from his taped-up high chair. Yesterday he was reclining in luxurious freedom on top of a purple shelf. He also appeared to have been freshly laundered. On the shelf to the bear’s left was a lion who looked equally comfortable. He was well-positioned to see the readers on the window-seat as well as the street scene beyond.

The tree that had once sat gathering dust in the program room with a “Do Not Move” sign on it (which I had mistakenly thought said, “Do Not Remove”) was prominently displayed near the window-seat in the Children’s Room. With newly sprouted green leaves, it looked refreshed. And from what I understand, the leafy prop is going to play an essential role in a fundraising campaign for Riverdale branch in the near future.

With impeccable timing, I returned to the main part of the library in time for refreshments in the community room. As I waited in line, everybody started singing, “Happy Birthday, Dear Riverdale” to the library. Once I reached the buffet table, I was overwhelmed by the sheer good-natured mayhem of the crowd. Folks were sitting, standing, pushing forward, retreating, and searching for missing implements to their meal. I handed a fork to a man who’d missed his chance to grab one and marvelled at the pig’s head resting inside a platter with chunks of pork. A patron standing across from me commented: “That’s a vegetarian’s nightmare!”

Veering around groups of eaters who stood placidly impeding the progress of the hungry and thirsty, I reached the drinks table. City Librarian, Jane Pyper was standing there beside the jugs of ice water, helping out like a kindly hostess. I complimented her on the renovation, and she said how pleased she was with it, too. She mentioned how the building was more open to the street now. Ms. Pyper wished me luck as I set off to photograph the cakes.

After I took a few more photographs, I left Riverdale’s celebration with high spirits and a full stomach. It made me smile to see patrons leaning on CD carrels and bookshelves with plates of noodles, pork, and cake. Without a doubt, centennial festivity prevailed among the stacks!

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