Located near the intersection of Albion Road and Kipling Avenue, Albion Library’s gritty branch-on-the-edge vibe reminded me of Eatonville Library, which also presses against the outer limits of the Greater Toronto Area. Eatonville was built in 1967 and Albion in 1973: two survivors of groovier times.
True to the non-conformist decade that produced it, Albion’s dark green and red-orange interior showed a refreshing disregard for pastel niceties. Also in line with a truth-seeking era, the large exposed heating and cooling ducts overhead did not pretend to be respectable. Forty-two years ago, a barefoot patron might have felt comfortable reading a copy of Be Here Now under such non-hypocritical ducts.
Fully shod but sympathetic, I explored the sprawling single-level building, a notebook with doves on the cover in hand. As I circled the branch, I found generous windows, stretches of book-lined aisles, and pleasing zig-zag angles.
When I wasn’t distracted by poetic patches of sunlight on the carpet, I was studying the amazing range of materials in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Gujarati, Telugu, Hindi, Italian, Punjabi, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, and Vietnamese. I also admired a glass cube in the middle of the north wing that displayed a busy computer lab.
Other animating elements included a landscape collage, a pro-vacation art installation, and a monkey who was swinging over the information desk.
After buying a few books from the sale trolley, I left Albion feeling cooler than when I came in. And that’s coming from a deeply hip person who blogs about libraries!