With the triangle above the entrance and the straight lines of the side portico, the geometrical impression of the exterior didn’t prepare me for the warmth and organic spaciousness of the interior. I felt like I’d just taken off my parka and stepped into a scholarly, wood-blessed chalet.
To support the extremely high central ceiling, strong planks sprouted from stone pillars, creating a fan-like structure that held up the straight wooden beams above. As I stood and admired the ceiling, creating an obstacle to browsers, I imagined it as the skeleton of an upsidedown ark-in-progress.
Lots of glass both overhead and on the sides of the library meant lots of light to nourish the patrons and tall potted palms alike. (I think the palms were in lively condition because the leaves of one of them tickled the tassel of my stocking cap when I came in).
As I wove between the aisles, I noticed shelves of books in Urdu, Tamil, Hindi, Tagalog, Punjabi, Gujurati, and Chinese. I also admired a three-dimensional castle puzzle (fully completed) on top of a bookshelf in the children’s section.
Nearby was a much larger castle — a fort for young readers to defend themselves against potential enemies of the imagination — that had seats in turrets and large fort holes for bookish knights and ladies to crawl through. A long carpeted reading bench was the perfect place to recharge for the next joust.
The final details of Malvern which gladdened my heart were an extensive set of windowseats and an equally inviting armchair upholstered in black fabric with a cat’s green eyes stitched on it. No wonder children were literally running to get in the library!
All in all, Malvern branch impressed me as a wonderful example of public resources well-spent. It is a living example of what it means to challenge stereotypes of crime-ridden, stigmatized Scarborough.
The next person who teases me about living in Scartown or declares that Pape Station is their easternmost limit is going to get a firm invitation to see places like Malvern in a new light. If they could see what I see when I visit Malvern, Cedarbrae, and Kennedy/Eglinton Libraries (and many others), they would experience the beautiful way these branches serve communities under pressure. And they would better understand why I’m proud to live in Scarborough.