100 Libraries

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

Tag: Heritage Property

008 Bloor/Gladstone Library

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The Bloor Gladstone Library (previously Dovercourt Library) is one of those conspicuous heritage giants in the City, straddled by a show-y modern extension. The day that I arrived at Bloor Gladstone was not a particularly sunny day (note the rain drops on my Library Passport), yet the grandeur and bookish excitement of the building is not lost to the weather. The architects did a good job of preserving the heritage elements and character when planning the light and open addition. The Library was closed for a whopping three years for these much-needed revitalization, though from the results, it seems like it was well worth the wait.

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Upon entrance, you will be presented with the wide open entry leading up to the Principal Reference and Information Desks. The atrium has wide ceilings and thankfully the heritage features were preserved in the 2006 renovation. There is also a Learning Centre to the right of the entrance which contains study spaces and computers. It was certainly packed on a Sunday afternoon.

IMG_6383The Dovercourt Branch was opened in 1913, making it the first Toronto Public Library branch that was wholly funded by the City of Toronto. The Bloor West area was not always the affluent community that we have come to know. For much of its history, Bloor Gladstone catered to itinerant and high needs users. There is a local history collection with resources specifically for the area immediately surrounding the Library. With the price of housing sky rocketing in the city centre, the main users of the Branch are now young professionals and their families. Thus the Children’s Collection is perhaps one of the bigger collections I have seen in a neighbourhood branch. The community is also home to Hollywood and entertainment luminaries, including a certain Canadian singer-songwriter. There are also many students in the area, who often congregate in one of the many study rooms available in the Library.

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The Library received its heritage designation from the City in 1993 and underwent a massive transformation in 2006, adding an entire extension with the Toronto Public Library’s first green roof. The design of the addition compliments the aesthetic of the older building, and it won an architecture award from the Chicago Athenaeum.

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Though the building is often praised as a hallmark of the neighbourhood landscape, the holdings inside the Library are very on point for the needs of the gentrifying neighbourhood. One of the most interesting displays to me at the Bloor Gladstone Library was of large print art books. They were conveniently placed next to a reading room between the old and new wings of the building with a lot of charming heritage touches. The reading room is also home to the Branch’s periodical collection, available for browsing. There is also a large culinary section, with Nigella Lawson’s newest cookbook in pride of place.

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Overall this is a charming heritage library with a lot to offer and see. Come for the building, stay for the books.

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006 Queen / Saulter Library

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From the outside, one would assume that from the age of the building, the Queen/Saulter Library was one of the original library buildings in Toronto. In fact, this library location was only opened in 1980, occupying an older postal station. You may recognize the architecture as the handiwork of one E.J. Lennox, who was also responsible for Old City Hall and Casa Loma, among other iconic buildings in Toronto.

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IMG_6342As mentioned, this Library was once Postal Station G, and that fact is commemorated with a hand painted plaque outside of the building. This neo-classical space is not solely inhabited by the Queen / Saulter Library, it also houses a community centre and day care. In fact, you will find a window above the Children’s Collection in the back that looks directly into the day care. I know this because I accidentally made eye contact with one of the Early Childhood Educators on staff there.

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The interiors of the Postal Station have been painstakingly kept and remodelled to fit the needs and functions of a public library. The Reference Desk preserves the original marble counter tops of the Post Office counter. The Library also allows local artists to display their work in various gallery and display areas.

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The community that the Library serves is largely young professionals with families and their Story Time offerings are very popular. There is a dedicated children’s programming area in the back of the Library, which is both elevated and separated from the rest of the library.

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Special thanks to Judy Leung for showing me around the Queen / Saulter Library!

005 Riverdale Library

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Riverdale Library was one of the Carnegie Libraries gifted to Toronto by Andrew Carnegie. It opened its doors officially on October 10, 1910. It is one of the oldest libraries in the Toronto Public Library system and was also home to one of its first children’s collections and multilingual collections.

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The Library first opened the doors to the Boys and Girls addition in 1927, and was one of the first of its kind to have holdings specifically designated for children. Today the Children’s Collection for the Library still occupies the space, and though little has changed in terms of the physical features of the building (with one very major exception, see the Children’s Collection Entrance below), a few whimsical design elements, including a small tree and a sailboat, are sure to delight.

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Both the physical structure and the community have undergone significant changes, which is reflected in the collections and the role of the Library over time. In 1973, in response to an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong and Vietnam, a Chinese and Vietnamese Language collection was added to Riverdale Library. This was the one of the first multilingual collections in the Toronto Public Library at the time. However, over time, the real estate in the area has increase in value and older Chinese immigrants have moved away from Riverdale. The community has since been replaced by young professionals and their families, shifting focus back to the Children’s Collection. There are still a number of users of the Chinese Collection, notably recent immigrants and students from China, though the Collection has seen a change from Traditional Chinese to Simplified Chinese materials.

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The building has been expanded twice (1928; Boys and Girls Addition, 2010; modernization expansion) and renovated three times (1937; Kenneth S. Gillies, 1969; after a fire, 2010; modernization). Riverdale Library has been designated a heritage property since 1977 and was awarded a Toronto Historical plaque in recognition of its history in 2006.

With the gradual gentrification of the surrounding community, Riverdale Library will continue to transition into its new role in Children’s Holdings and collections catering to young professionals.

Special thanks to Niki Lawrence for taking the time to show me around the Library and teach me about the history of the community!

002 Yorkville Library

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Yorkville Library was built through a grant by Andrew Carnegie, as one of the infamous Carnegie Libraries. As such, Yorkville Library is part of a rich legacy left behind by the magnate, along with being part of a series of 2 509 libraries in the world.

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This library was opened in 1907, relocating services from an earlier Northern Branch. The site was designated a heritage site in 1973 and  expanded in 1978. The branch was designated a heritage property in 1973, receiving its Toronto Historical plaque in 2007. One of my favourite features is the gallery like quiet study space at the back of the building.

Of note in this library is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Collection. Although it is disseminated widely throughout the general collection, you can find a variety of books, magazines and audio visual materials on topics relating to the LGBT community.

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Although it’s a smaller library than the massive Toronto Reference Library, the setting offers a more intimate atmosphere.

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et pour mes lecteurs français, il y a une collection excellente des livres français au coeur de la bibliothèque Yorkville!