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My first love: the public library

Maybe I'm just a nerd, but going to the public library fills me with real joy. Maybe it's just the joy of not spending $30 on a book I end up hating, but I truly think there's something more there. I have a friend from California who always complains about the price of books and when I ask her why she doesn't use the library, she looks at me like I'm crazy, because there aren't any libraries where she lives, not useful ones with current books that you might actually want to read.

Today, as I was on my way to my current local branch, Sanderson, I was trying to think of a good post as per I haven't done anything interesting in ages and therefore haven't had much bloggy fodder for a while. And I realized--my love for the Toronto Public Library is strong and true, and so here, I share it with you.

The first thing is, you have to know where you can browse, and where you cannot. I love Sanderson because it has little window nooks where you can flip through cookbooks, but there is not much of a random fiction selection there. Mostly I just order books in advance and pick them up, which is always an adventure because who knows what weird book I put on hold while randomly Googling one day, and who knows how long I've had to wait for it? It is sometimes frustrating to be number 169 on a waiting list of 305 people when a book is new and hot, but hey--can't you read a classic? And then when The Davinci Code finally shows up, it's a pleasant surprise. One good thing about Sanderson is that there is a woman who works there who has glasses and a big mole who has sort of the same taste as me and makes good recommendations. Librarians are generally friendly, lovely people. Appreciate them.

My favourite branch for browsing is the one at College and Shaw, which I see here is called "College/Shaw." Genius. There's a big rack of oversized fiction, where I can usually find good gems that I always meant to read but forgot about. Probably advertising this is a big mistake that I will regret later. Also dear to me is the Lillian H. Smith branch at Spadina and College, which is great for a grey afternoon spent reading young adult novels (doesn't everyone do this?). And of course, there is the Toronto Reference Library--don't underestimate it. Here you can read all the latest issues of the latest magazines while sitting down and no one gives you dirty looks for not buying them. I love that libraries are buzzing with energy and deathly quiet at the same time. It's both stimulating and relaxing.

Back in high school, I had the pleasure of working at the public library, where I read a lot of children's books and made a very good friend, Grace. She just notified me of this contest whereby TVO is offering $5000 for the best story about "magic in the public libraries." This is funny to us because we know at least two couples that found true love in the public library. It really is a place where magic happens.


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