100 Libraries

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

Tag: LGBT

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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004 St. James Town Library

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The St. James Town Library is a medium sized library next to the Wellesley Community Centre. It offers both programming in collaboration with the Wellesley CC and its own programming like children’s services and book clubs (more on that later).

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IMG_6308It serves the most densely populated community in Toronto, as the area that it is in offers many high rise lodgings. As such, although it is a smaller library, its collections reflect the enormous diversity of its population. It has an immense array of multilingual materials including what appears to be the only Nepali public library material available in the Toronto Public Library system. It also offers resources in French, Chinese, Russian, Urdu, Korean and Spanish.

This compliments the programming services offered by the library, including a full children’s collection and a story time. St. James Town also collaborates with the Wellesley Community Centre programs such as summer camps, after school programs and day cares. During the day time, you will see a number of users from all walks of life gathered around the various multilingual resources, using the offered technologies or participating in events.

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The Children’s Collection and Programming Space

Perhaps what is most unique about this library branch is its initiative to bridge digital and physical spaces. Their latest foray in this manner is Pod-Club for the online series Serial. Branch Head Michael Warner tells me that the Pod-Club is trying to connect library users using digital media. This combination is a new concept but one that I hope picks up steam and is soon offered at more TPL locations. The Library does also offer traditional Book Club programming, including a pride themed book club called “Proud Readers Book Club” (due to its proximity to Church Street).

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Special thanks to Michael Warner for his introduction to the St. James Town Library.

 

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!