By Carol Salinas
Did you know that Toronto has the largest public library system in Canada, with over 100 branches, including two research and reference libraries. These libraries contain a wide range of material, such as books, magazines, digital archives, e-books, e-magazines and audiobooks, among other material. What you may find surprising in this digital era is that the libraries still receive over 18 million visitors each year.
Unsure of which ones to go to? Aside from your local branch in your neighbourhood, VIBE105 highlights 5 libraries (that are more than just libraries)!
1. Toronto Reference Library
Location: 789 Yonge Street, Toronto
Closest Subway : Bloor-Yonge
The reference library is where you can’t take material home with you (compared to regular libraries) but where you can sit peacefully and conduct your research there. However, there are certain materials that are allowed to be borrowed, such as the ESL collection, the multilingual literature collection, DVDs and some music items, as well as some of other non-research material.
If you didn’t know, the Reference Library is where some of the most special collections and rare books are kept. If you’re looking for very specific material, you will be able to find manuscripts and memorabilia about Sherlock Homes or whatever specialty material you’re looking for.
When you first step into this vast library, it may be overwhelming but every floor is focused on specific themes:
In the lobby, you will be able to find the Toronto Star Newspaper Room.
1st floor : Circulation and Registration, Digital Innovation Hub, TD Gallery, Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium, Learning Centres. (This is where you will find 3D printers and workshops as well as learning support. )
2nd floor: Humanities and Social Sciences
3rd floor: Business, Science and Technology
4th floor: Languages and Literature
5th floor: Arts; Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre. (This floor is where the rare books live. )
2. High Park library
Location: 228 Roncesvalle Ave, Toronto
Closest Subway : Dundas West
What makes this library special is that it offers the public a large collection of material in Polish and also hosts a Creative Writing Group at its community room. For all those writers out there, if you love writing or if you want to improve it, you can easily find inspiration and support in this informal environment.
3. Lillian H. Smith Branch
Location: 239 College Street, Toronto
Closest Subway: College
Did you know that this library is exclusively dedicated to material for children based content? This branch hosts several collections such as the Osborne Collection, focused on early children full of colourful illustrations.
On the other hand, there is The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy with more than 57,000 items. There is also the collection of Puppetry Creative Drama and Theatre for Children and Origami programs for kids for 5 years and older. This program is offered in partnership with the University of Toronto organization Fly with Origami, Learn to Dream (UTFOLD).
This is the ideal place for adults who are kids at heart or children who want to explore the wonders of fantasy and imagination.
4. Parkdale Library
Location: 1303 Queen Street West, Toronto.
Closest Subway: Dufferin
Did you know that this is the first library of its kind in Toronto that lends musical instruments to the public, and also the first one across Canada? If you’re a music lover, this place is an excellent option for you. You can come in to play the piano (with your library card) or you can borrow a guitar or a keyboard.
5. Bloor Gladstone Library
Location : 1303 Queen Street West, Toronto
Closest Subway: Dufferin
This branch opened in 1913, but since then it was closed for renovation and expansion. Officially reopened in July 2009 this branch was made with innovation and environment in mind as it has green roof (reading garden). Later on, it went on to win an international architecture award for its leading architectural design and style. This branch offers a lot of support for the community with workshops from Excel / PowerPoint basics to Crafternoons (crafts for kids).
No matter what you’re looking for or looking to learn, these 5 branches offer you a wide variety of support in reading, writing, special materials and learning for both kids and adults. Rich with history and architecture, the library isn’t a dull place it’s painted to be.