On a scale of 1 to 10, you could say that I’m handling the Toronto Public Library closing not very well.

When they announced that they were going to be closing the next day, I went in with Caleb and left him by the comic books so I could dramatically mope about in peace. It turns out I wasn’t geared for the practical tasks of hoarding toilet paper or hand sanitizer: for the first time ever, I borrowed the maximum number of items, which was 50. Even Jon was impressed (a mix of impressed/horrified/concerned). Along with the books I already had checked out, I had adult books, kids chapter books, graphic novels and picture books, along with a few movies. This was mainly based on the idea that schools were going to be closed for two weeks after March Break, so for three weeks total. How was I going to keep the kids busy for three weeks! Ho, ho, ho, life says.

It’s now been a long time. About a decade. I’m reaching the end of the pile and soon enough we’ll turn around and start them again. The other day, I was obsessively counting my library books to see if they totalled up to 50 (they did not).

Perhaps it’s misplaced angst in this wild period of uncertainty, perhaps it’s a further signal of my impending falling off the edge of things entirely, but the library closed truly seems the coming of the end times. I’ve become so used to being able to put a book on hold without a moment’s thought, and visiting with the kids after school once or twice a week, to discover new books to read by browsing through the shelves.

While I do read a lot of library books myself, I think the draw for me is mostly that as a mama, I’m still exploring and getting to know books and series for kids, especially outside of the classics that seem to make all the lists on the internet. There’s such a wide range, and when your kid is at the age where the pictures to words ratio is very important, it’s hard to tell how a book is going to go over without holding it in your hand. I loved being able to put a bunch of books on hold, and bring them home to browse through them and see which ones would be right for Caleb.

I’ve begun getting lost late into the night emailing back and forth with local specialty and niche bookshops, and arranging for curbside pick up, browsing through catalogues until long after my eyes have stopped twitching entirely.

We’ve been ordering more books for the shop, and a few for Caleb and Naomi, and while the wait times for shipments from publisher warehouses are longer these days, it’s sort of reminiscent of placing books on hold at the library. There’s no online tracking system or eternally patient and calming librarians to answer your questions about when your holds are finally coming in, but it’s a new world.

The libraries will eventually open again, I keep telling myself. In the meantime, and in celebration of the future, I thought I would share a brief photo history of the Toronto libraries our kids have enjoyed.

Caleb at the beautiful Queen and Saulter Branch, when we were in Leslieville, 2016.
Queen and Saulter 2017.
Naomi at the Parliament Street Branch, maybe 2018. After we moved into the Studio Shop, we were right across the street.
For a while the Parliament Street Library was closed for renovations, so we had to make the arduous 15 minute walk up to the St. Jamestown branch. While it had a much nicer bathroom located in the community centre (spacious, multiple stalls, easily accessible with a stroller), it was not quite the same as home.
St. Jamestown Branch, 2019.
Naomi at the Toronto Reference Library during last year’s Scriptus Pen Show, 2019.
Everyone barely containing their joy at the reopening of the Parliament Street Branch last fall, 2019. Little did we know how short-lived it was to be.
The last day the library was open this past March, 2020.

If you have any good chapter book or author recommendations for a 5-6 year old, please let me know!


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April 12, 2020 — wonderpens



Rosemary said:

Great library photos!
I miss our library here in Vancouver, too.

Have you read “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin? My daughter loved it read aloud before she was reading on her own and then she read it again when she was older. Another read-aloud favourite was “Lilliput” by Sam Gayton.

Thanks for the penpal match-up!

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