On my way to see a friend’s exhibit on Queen Street West one winter evening in 2008, a blue and white TPL sign stopped me in my tracks. Not wanting to waste a library-visit opportunity, I took a quick art detour to Parkdale Library, which was the 45th branch on my pilgrimage. (Four years after this evening visit, I returned to the site with my camera).
To walk into a warm library on a cold night is very comforting, like visiting a favourite aunt after a neighborhood snowball fight. She naturally offers you hot chocolate and fusses over how chilled you are.
Hot chocolate wasn’t available at Parkdale, but its main level had a vibrant mural that nourished the eyes with colourful shapes. Though the shapes were abstract, I could still identify a whale, a cow, a bird, and some eggs. (I liked how the clock seemed more egg-like than most clocks because of its proximity to the mural eggs).
On the west side of the library, I saw a homework room, two quiet study rooms, and a community outreach office. In this office, a staff member was talking to numerous clients in a friendly, respectful manner.
Along the south wall and part of the east wall were books in Vietnamese, Polish, Gujurati, French, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese. (On my 2012 visit, I saw Tibetan and Tamil books but not Russian ones).
I was impressed by the variety of activity at Parkdale Library. For example, I observed a computer class in progress, three men discussing social issues at a study table, and all of the children’s computers in use. The homework room hosted two families studying intently, and one student was camped out near a potted palm in an armchair, his books, notebooks, and backpack strewn about comfortably. With so much light and energy inside, the room was a haven in contrast to the cold and darkness outside I experienced on my initial visit to Parkdale.
As I exited the library after my second trip, I noticed an art-gate that had escaped my attention previously (even when I passed it on the way to a Gaga Dance program earlier in 2012). A companion piece to the globe sculpture outside, it was decorated with eight red book spines that bore an unfortunate resemblance to dynamite. The books represented eight countries: Sweden, Russia, France, Slovak, Spain (with the “s” scraped off by a vandal), Italy, Germany, and Poland.
Thinking I had finished my blog work, I started walking east along Queen Street West. I had tucked my camera away too soon, though, for a mural by Maureen Walton next to the library building immediately captivated me. It was the perfect visual to summarize a morning immersed in the dynamic urban creativity of Parkdale!