My love of the public library in general, and the Toronto Public Library system specifically, continues. Our local branch is the Parliament Street Branch, which is sometimes, some days, a bit of a heady branch, but we are also walking distance to a few others, which tend to have more robust children’s programming. Over March break, the Riverdale Branch put on Marcel, the Shell with Shoes On, which is this heartwarming and funny and poignant movie about life and loneliness and community and the power of the internet.


Alas, it was maybe a bit too poignant, and also a bit of an esoteric movie, and Caleb and Naomi were the last remaining to the end, all the other kids having left sometime partway through. I wasn’t sure if we were holding the librarian up, just us hanging out after everyone had left, and in fact, even when the credits were rolling and she was coming up with her remote, Caleb and Naomi were still watching, because it’s a thing in our house that we like to watch the credits in case there’s bonus footage or bloopers or to recognize famous names or just to recognize when a Caleb of some sort was the location sound engineer or the assistant to the assistant director. I could tell the librarian was a bit demoralized by the fact that she had started out with a full house and then everyone had left, in the twos and threes that they’d come in as. Don’t I know that feeling, running a stationery shop in the techo-millennium.


And it was sort of also great: the thrill of being in an empty theater during an afternoon matinee, all the time in the world, sitting wherever you choose. I suppose it’s one advantage of the two of them having been forced to sit through and watch so many boring movies in their childhood, Naomi begging and begging to watch Frozen just once like every other girl in her class who’s seen it five times,* but this sort of thing is what I live for. Watching weird and boring movies in the library! Yes, please! I feel like I would be less inclined to go if they were indeed showing Frozen.


But I also had baby Junia who has no attention span at all and so we toddled around and inspected the foreign language DVDs and the mystery novels and the people studying and working. She made her funny sounds and gave me her wide-eyed look when I said un-uhn about pulling the books off the shelf.


All in all, not a bad way to spend a Tuesday in a March break. This is really just another very small ode to the tiny joys of a public library system that gives communities these spaces and these cultural opportunities and is the best possible use of our municipal tax dollars and are staffed by lovely people.



*Please note that we have watched Frozen the requisite one time, and Naomi is currently borrowing Frozen books from the library to satiate her now-confirmed Elsa crush.

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March 16, 2023 — Liz Chan



LeeAnn said:

Oh, Liz, I adore your blogs. I am also a huge TPL fan girl.

I love the photos of Junia crawling along the library carpet tiles, and sitting like a frog, and pulling herself up on things. My mother, born in 1938, believes all kids should have lots of dirt exposure to build a good immune system. This was before we worried about chemicals.
However Mom did tell us to look out for cat deposits in the sand boxes of the neighbourhood, helicopter parenting ,circa 1960’s, not.

I also appreciate your subtle nods to Toronto that we locals can get, like Parliament being a “heady” branch at times. Pass the smelling salts.

Thanks for sharing your very full world with us.

James E. Turner

James E. Turner said:

Hahaha. I love hearing this. We have the same house culture (right down to the watching credits and spotting people with our names, lol).

The only movie we watched before our kids were 8 and 5 (and only because of the pandemic) was Totoro – every Friday for most of 2020.

And ditto the delayed Frozen gratification (and the requisite viewing and the Elsa crushing).

I feel SEEN, Liz. :)


Nina said:

Thanks for taking me along for the ride. LOVED the photos of the kids!!! St. George Boys + Girls library saved my life. When I was 10 a friend took my hand and we walked out of our neighborhood for miles to the Boys and Girls House Library @ St. George + College. Stepping inside the library with its silence and hushed tones felt like a sacred space, one I could return to when things got tough. The beauty of the building and tranquility within, the smiling staff and books stacked to the ceiling, raised me. And now when I walked 10 blocks from the library to my Sicilian family, the rabbis running past our house and the chanting from the synagogues, was no longer frightening but exciting.

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