100 Libraries

"A library is also a place where love begins." – Rudolfo Anaya

Tag: Children’s Collection

016 Centennial Library

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The Centennial Library was opened by the North York Public Library in 1966, and was brought into amalgamation with the Toronto Public Library in 1999. The Branch itself was renovated in 1997, and its hours were increased in 2010. Although this is a community library, it is surprisingly large, and it has very poignant and interesting features. Let’s dive in!

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The Branch serves a large community of new immigrants to the country. Thus, the Collection features very extensive multilingual holdings. These include holdings in Russian, French, Hebrew, Korean, Spanish and Tagalog. There is also a multilingual audiovisual collection. The Branch also collaborates with the local YMCA to bring newcomer resources to the Library. This includes free English Classes and an onsite settlement worker. Everyday at 12 PM, a settlement worker mans a desk to provide their resources to the community.

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The Branch also has a few notable programming options, including a knitting club and a Youth Ambassadors Club.

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015 Pleasant View Library

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(apologies for the lack of photographs, my phone died right after I took the exterior photos)

Pleasant View Library is a neighbourhood library in the North York Region, which was opened in 1975. Originally, it was part of the North York Public Library system until amalgamation of the Metropolitan Toronto System and the North York System added multiple branches. It was retrofitted in 1995.

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This Branch is located near a vibrant Chinese-Canadian community, especially in the Van Horne area. In response to the community, the Library has a large print collection in both Chinese and French. The Library also offers the usual non-print holdings, such as Pedometer Lending and Audiobooks.

The building itself, does not appear to be particularly remarkable, as its non-descript brick exterior is meant to match the community centre it is near. Though the exterior of the building sits non-offensively in the neighbourhood, the interior treats patrons to a whimsical and somewhat unusual space. The Children’s section in particular includes whimsical arched frames of animals, in characteristically 90’s kitschy painted columns.

Perhaps the most interesting features of this Library may be the fact that as a neighbourhood library, it features an auditorium and a kitchen. The auditorium is very large, and can hold up to 170 audience members. Auditoriums are rare amongst non-district libraries, and the Branch conducts much of its programming for the community here. Kitchens are also a feature of a bygone era, as these are certainly not essential or installed regularly in many other branches.

001 Lillian H. Smith Library

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“The love for a good story, well told, lies deep in every human heart.” – Lillian H. Smith

IMG_6286The Lillian H. Smith Library was founded in 1922 and named after the first professionally trained children’s librarian in the British Empire. Lillian Smith was 25 when she joined the Toronto Library system due to a growing demand for the children of the city. Housed within the collections of this library are The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books and The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy. All of course guarded by the two stone gryphons at the front doors.

In fact, Smith was instrumental in bringing the Osborne Collection to Toronto. Edgar Osborne was a British Librarian who moonlighted as a children’s book collector. After some time, he managed to collect over 2 000 items which represented three centuries worth of children’s reading materials. Upon meeting Smith, he was so impressed that he committed all of his collection to Toronto. Those 2 000 items have now grown to a tripartite collection represented by 100 000 items.

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IMG_6279I have often found that children’s books allow writers, illustrators and creators to be the most innovative, and the Osborne Collection did not disappoint. There are a number of interesting children’s books and childhood items in the collection including a horn book, a vellum copy of Aesop’s Fables from the 14th century and (until 2002) the world’s smallest book.

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There are circulating exhibits in both the Merril and Osborne Collections and the curators of the collections often run seminars including “Ask a Curator” on Saturdays.

(Oh and for all of you “Where the Wild Things Are” fanatics, there’s a small celebration of his work at Lillian H. Smith right now as well.)