Tag Archives: books

The Perfect Birthday

In past years I’ve tried to cram all kinds of indulgences into one day, on my birthday, resulting in fatigue and general frazzlement. This year, however, I finally found the winning formula to absolute, total, birthday perfection.

First, you play hookey from all work, duties, chores.






And later, when the sun comes out:


I read books for six hours straight. It was fantastic.

No music, radio, tv or internet. Just silence and bird twitters.

Yay for simple pleasures!

More Library Love

As a follow up to my Library Love post… This week I went along on a Grade 1 class tour of the new facility…


kids in the driver’s seat of our “rolls royce” library!


Isn’t this a lovely sight? Kids with books! Hooray!

Library Love

I came across this last week and it made me nostalgic for the grand old Toronto Public Library system: Ten Reasons to Love the TPL. I worked for the TPL for a while – in the cataloguing department but also in a very busy branch for a few months – and got a bit of an inside look at a very complex organization.¬†I was working there the ominous year that the boss’s title was quietly changed from “Head Librarian” to “CEO”, which sent a chill throughout the organization. The TPL is not without its inefficiencies, errors and information gaps, employee tribulations and politics, but the biggest strain on the system always came from the fact that it is so well-used by SO many people. And the biggest headache has always come from governments prowling about the periphery hunting for cost-cutting measures. It’s a never-ending struggle to keep services available, but the bookish folk of Hogtown are always ready to jump into the fray, armed with their petitions and placards, with Margaret Atwood sounding the charge…

The Runnymede Branch of the Toronto Public Lib...

Runnymede Branch of the TPL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The reason the protests usually succeed is that the TPL works and is depended upon and loved by so many. The branches are numerous, from tiny friendly places to grander historic buildings. I lived in many different neighbourhoods and always found a library relatively close by. I could place holds for any title in the vast holdings and have it delivered to my own wee branch around the corner, a feature that I positively adored. And one of my favourite (geeky) ways to spend a day was to head to the Toronto Reference Library to do research, abetted by the truly lovely staff there. I miss it all so!

English: Toronto Reference Library

Toronto Reference Library (Wikipedia)

In my new home on the island, I am incredibly lucky to have a brand new library facility, so new it positively sparkles. And to my utter disbelief, it seems that this gorgeous building has aroused some amount of “I’m agin’ it!” from the anti-whatever-is-going crowd here. The building is too big, too showy. We don’t need anything that large. It doesn’t match the bank across the road. Can’t we just go back to the old library, cramped and decrepit, with the leaking roof?

Reading letters to the editor moaning about our unnecessary “rolls royce library” makes my blood pressure sky rocket, so I won’t go into this issue much further, save to say that the nay-sayers seem to have forgotten about the existence of children on the island. Even if there wasn’t a single adult who used the library, the mere fact that there are children here warrants the best and most excellent library we can possibly build.

Saltspring Library (photo credit John Cameraon)

Saltspring Library (photo credit John Cameron)

And when you build a large library, with awe-inspiring architecture and a spacious, serene interior, what message does that pass on to the following generations?

Reading is important.

Books and knowledge are valued in our community.

Take a look at these – 11 Beautiful Libraries From Around the World – and tell me you don’t get that message from these buildings!

I can tell you, you wouldn’t get an iota of opposition to a new library – any new library – from the embattled library patrons* of Toronto, be it Rolls Royce or Studebaker.

*I prefer the old term “patrons” to the new one that was brought in when the Head Librarian morphed into a CEO: “customers”

Step 19: Get Boxes. Repeat.

I thought this was a no-brainer: the best boxes bar none for packing books are liquor boxes. Strong, durable, and not too big. (I’ve had movers thank me specifically for not putting books in big, too-heavy boxes.) The larger liquor stores have stacks of them by the front wall and I always thought I was doing them a favour by taking a few off their hands.

Until I was scolded by a fretful store manager, who limited me to three boxes from the wall-full he was straightening.

Is this commonplace? Is this a Toronto thing? Whenever I asked if I could take boxes before, the cashier gave me a “of course, what are you even asking for?” look.

New box strategy: visit liquor stores on weekends, when manager isn’t working.

Step 9: Art Books…. mmmm art books…

This is a much harder decision. I have quite a number of very large and very heavy coffee-table-style art books that I never look at and love dearly. Gleaned from library discard sales, yard sales, and other strange places, I cannot pass up a good art book.

Once upon a time I made cut-out animations using chopped up illustrations of paintings, so my immediate impulse was to hoard materials for more films. Sadly this interest of mine has yet to make the jump from 16mm film to digital techniques, so I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back to it.*

At the moment all these lovely books are chiefly being used to press leaves. What to do? Take them or leave them?

*For the curious, here’s my cut-out film from 1992: All the Great Operas (in 10 minutes)