2015 Hero: The Toronto Public Library

Torontoist

2015 Hero: The Toronto Public Library

Nominated for: continuing to amaze and amuse in old and new ways.

Torontoist is reflecting on 2015 by naming our Heroes and Villains—the people, places, things, and ideas that have had the most positive and negative impacts on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until midnight on January 7. At noon on January 8, we’ll reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

Heroes  Toronto Public Library by Evan Munday

It occasionally seems that few Toronto institutions can still pleasantly surprise and impress a long-time resident; I would argue that the Toronto Public Library is one such.

The individual branches’ lovingly curated and topical displays, whether tying in to contemporary political issues such as Idle No More or featuring mystery Valentine books wrapped in red tissue paper for February 14, always amaze and amuse. On any given day, TPL’s librarians can be heard giving tips to adolescents on how to find books and movies about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, showing seniors how to use the internet, guiding researchers through the archives, and telling homeless people where to find the bathroom with equal amounts of patience and grace, while the security guards interact respectfully with everyone and will often be seen helping out at kids’ story time.

New attractions like the green screen room at the Reference Library, vinyl aficionado evenings and the New Collection cultural events programme, and ongoing favourites like the Make Some Noise concert series, Friday movie nights, and community-based programming ranging from ESL classes to the Makers Club for young inventors, ensure that libraries continue as thriving, essential parts of our communities.

During this memorable drought-ending baseball postseason, they even joined in on the “Come Together” spirit of things by starting a book-spine trash-talk exchange with the Kansas City Public Library.

This year also saw the TPL celebrate the construction of its hundredth branch in the Scarborough Civic Centre. The new branch houses an impressive collection including books, DVDs, and other media in English, Chinese, Gujarati, and Tamil, and offers access to 3D printing technology, and an Early Literacy Centre for kids aged 0-5.

The interactive poetry map initiative, produced in cooperation with outgoing Toronto poet laureate George Elliott Clarke, is pretty nifty too.

Finally, TPL locations are also some of the last places in Toronto where you can still get a glass of water and use the bathroom for free, a not insignificant attribute in our increasingly precious metropolis.


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