With the City of Toronto elections coming up, there is a lot of noise about the things in our great city that don’t always work well — transit, affordable housing, bullying, crack-head politicians.
There rarely is much said about the Toronto Public Library system because it is one of the best systems in the world. For some perspective, the TPL’s Key Facts page says that it is the busiest library system in the WORLD, with 72% of Torontonians using it.
Quite simply, I would not be the writer that I am today, with ten books out, plus a ton of others that I worked on (and am working on), without the TPL’s books, video tapes (remember them?), DVDs, and reference materials. When I was at Ryerson University, I can remember holing up at the Lawrence and Northern branches doing my homework. Later, when I moved to the west end of the city, the Annette and Jane/Dundas branches have been my home away from home. Through the years, I’ve made a point to visit as many branches as I could.
And then there’s the incredible Metro Reference Library down at Yonge and Bloor in the very heart of the city. It might be the most valuable resource in the entire city, though I doubt Mayor Rob Ford has ever been inside. Whether I was happily perusing microfilm, looking for old wrestling results, or putting in my Stacks Request for a vintage hockey book, there have been many times I have spent an entire day at Metro Ref.
My local branch, Jane/Dundas, underwent renovations just after my son was born in November 2006. I’d been there a lot before then, including four years as a volunteer, helping kids learn to read on Saturday mornings. In particular, two librarians at the time were especially enthusiastic about my budding writing career, and Norra and Catherine both bought copies of The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians when it first came out in 2003, even though I’m pretty sure they weren’t wrestling fans!
When it reopened, Quinn was just over a year old, and I can still remember having the cake at the celebration with him. Since then, rarely a week goes by when I’m not there. I regularly place holds for graphic novels (comics to most people), which I usually read before bed — I have a personal rule NOT to take work to bed, so I never read about sports before drifting off to sleep. There have been a number of inter-library loans, a rarely-used resource whereby you can’t request a library book from a library outside the TPL.
The quiet room has been a wonderful place to force myself to work … which doesn’t always happen at home, when there’s another cup of tea to make or an unfinished crossword puzzle.
Now, coming up on Thursday, November 6th, we’re a part of Family Hockey Night, the brainchild of the best children’s librarian in the world, Jo-Ann Woolverton. (She sets aside new books that come in that she thinks Quinn will like! How awesome is that?) The idea is that we wanted to celebrate Quinn’s book, Duck with the Puck, but didn’t want it to be a crass marketing event. Instead, we’ll have Quinn read his book, answer some questions, and there will be a screening of a short hockey movie — probably Roch Carrier’s The Sweater, and a craft. [CLICK HERE for more info on Family Hockey Night.]
And just as importantly, it brings the community into the library so that they too will know more about what a great place it is.