100 Libraries

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

Tag: Old Toronto

003 Toronto Reference Library

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And here we are at the Toronto Reference Library. This whimsical building was designed by Japanese Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama. There’s a lot to do and see here, so let’s dive in.

Upon entry, you are faced with the difficult choice of going to Page and Panel or Balzac’s Coffee. I am a tad biased, since Page and Panel is probably one of my favourite stores in Toronto, so let’s focus on that.

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Page and Panel is affiliated with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which is an annual comic arts festival held at the Toronto Reference Library. There are quite a few exotic wares in this shop, including a selection of book related ephemera, Studio Ghibli books (My Neighbour Totoro, anyone?), manga and anime gifts. For the bibliophiles in your life, this is the perfect place to buy book themed merchandise. I digress.

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There’s also the infamous Arthur Conan Doyle Collection. The Collection consists of items relating to Doyle’s writing, not simply his Sherlockian exploits, though those are a big feature. There are the issues of The Strand where Doyle originally published Sherlock Holmes but also his work on prehistory, faeries and spiritualism. Also included in the Collection are things that you wouldn’t expect, like TOEFL books that reference “Elementary, my Dear Watson” in their phrases and a certain literary beagle. The Friends of Arthur Conan Doyle also put on lectures, quiz nights and other outreach programs relating to Doyle and his works. Recently, they had a lecture by David Arquette, who was playing Holmes in Toronto.

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Of course, no description of the Toronto Reference Library would be complete without referring to the wonderful events at the Reference Library including the Book Lover’s Ball, the Eh List and a whole host of other programs.

I attended The eh List! event with André Alexis on January 11, 2016 at the Toronto Reference Library. For a recap of that experience, please click here.

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.)

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!