On a summer evening in 2009, I walked from my house to Liberty Square Shopping Plaza to attend a celebration of the freshly renovated Kennedy/Eglinton branch. Architects had repurposed the seedy bar next door, turning it into a library extension complete with a computer lab, community room, reading lounge and automated checkout area.
More than doubling the space, the expansion and renovation has made Kennedy/Eglinton Library almost unrecognizable compared to its pre-2009 manifestation. What had once been a cramped outpost of learning is now a spacious establishment that brightens Liberty Square.
From the polished tiles in the new entryway to the sparkly wall panels in the Teen’s area, the entire facility embodies hope in new beginnings. The improved Kennedy/Eglinton branch also offers many textured spaces, corners, and rooms that contain a variety of furniture: plush armchairs, a study nook with three-cornered bench, and a window seat in the children’s section.
On the evening of my 2009 visit, patrons of all ages had come out to experience the new library, and they occupied almost every table, computer and study area. As I wandered through the rooms, impressed by their vitality, I appreciated the linguistic diversity reflected in shelves stocked with Chinese, Tamil, and Hindi materials. The community room was surprisingly quiet, but signs of recent social activity lingered, including paper cups heaped in the trash and an empty silver tray smeared with blue and white icing.
However, minor disappointment over a missed cake opportunity could not spoil the grateful mood inspired by this expanded branch in Scarborough Junction. The building’s makeover has not only improved its architectural looks; it has made the area feel safer. Before 2009, 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 underneath signs that said, “Do not sit near the drop box.” Post-renovation, a former tavern tarnished by reports of criminal assault has been transformed into a handsome place of learning that serves as a community sanctuary. Long may its light shine!