Toronto Public Library Pilgrimage of 100 Branches

College/Shaw Library (1984) Among the Roses of Little Italy


Seven summers ago, I enjoyed a self-conducted walking tour of Urban Affairs, Sanderson, and College/Shaw libraries. In 2012 (and later in 2015), I returned to Biblioteca College/Shaw to take some pictures.

The walls of this small branch made an impression on me because they were the colour of key lime pie muted by Cool Whip. I also liked the way the green carpet combined white and green in a vine-leaf pattern. A potted tree accentuated the nature theme, and an aquarium, old sofa, and wicker chairs added to the cozy feel of the place. (Tree, aquarium, and wicker furniture were absent in 2012).

As I took in the entire room, it was inspiring to see how busy it was on a weekday afternoon. Every table had readers bent over their work, and each computer hosted an absorbed user in front of its screen.

Next, I wandered over to the Chinese and Portuguese collections, both residing in a contemplative corner near a circular window overlooking Shaw Street.


In the southwest corner was the Children’s Section, which included a low window bench with a red leather cover. The window above the seat was plastered with a paper-plate craft display.


On the 2012 visit, fanciful stickers had replaced the paper plates. The dragon sticker was especially interesting. Why was the dragon licking a bicycle hitching post?

Oblivious to the hungry dragon, two calm teddy bears surveyed the active reading scene from the top of a nearby shelf. They added an additional domestic dimension to a home-like branch that celebrates children’s art.


On my third visit in 2015, I was struck by the functional beauty of the returns chute, appreciating its role as a transitional conduit between inside and outside, borrowed and returned, potentially over-due and safe from censure.


After auditioning various library books for the role of Traveler on a Homecoming Journey, I rested at the long computer table by the windows facing College Street. With the word “Revival” in front of my eyes, I felt fortunate indeed to abide among the trees, roses, and bicycles of Little Italy at College/Shaw Library.


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