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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘toronto public library

[URBAN NOTE] Five Toronto links: the Toronto Public Library, Hanlan’s, parks, and Montréal laneways

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  • blogTO notes that the Toronto Reference Library will be holding a huge sale again next week.
  • Inside Toronto profiles Sephora Hussein, new collection head of the Merril Collection.
  • Michael Lyons writes about the importance of the newly-reopened Hanlan’s beach on the Toronto Islands.
  • Jake Tobin Garrett argues at Torontoist for the importance of the proposed Rail Deck Park.
  • Emily Macrae argues at Torontoist there is much Toronto can learn from the green–literally–laneways of Montréal.

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto is making a big push to upgrade its libraries”

blogTO’s Derek Flack highlights the ongoing upgrading of not a few of the branches of the Toronto Public Library system.

Perhaps the most stunning of these upgrades is happening at the TPL’s Albion Branch, where architecture firm Perkins + Will have designed a stunning new building immediately adjacent to the existing branch that dates back to 1973.

By using the parking lot as the site of the replacement, it was possible to keep the original branch in operation throughout the construction process, which is entering its final stage. The new building is expected to open in fall of this year.

When it does, it’ll feature a far more robust computer area, a technology centre complete with a 3-D printer, a specially designed kids area, and a social space being dubbed the “urban living room.”

Similar upgrades are coming to another branch that’s seen better days. The Raymond Moriyama-designed North York Central branch is still a stunning building with its seven storey atrium, but being the second busiest branch in the system, it was deemed a priority to upgrade its features and some of the finer points of the design.

The list goes on. No less than seven branches are currently undergoing renovation efforts, including Agincourt, Eglinton Square, Runnymede, St. Clair/Silverthorn, and Wychwood. In each case, the goal is the same: to modify the existing space to serve more as a community hub rather than merely a quiet place to study or read.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 25, 2017 at 9:00 pm

[LINK] “Bringing the Chinese Canadian Archive into view”

Spacing Toronto’s Arlene Chan profiles the exciting introduction to the public via the Toronto Public Library of an archive of Chinese Canadian history over the past century and more.

On Dominion Day, 1923, Canadians were in a celebratory mood. But those good feelings didn’t extend into any Chinatown. July 1 came to be regarded by the Chinese in Canada as “humiliation day.” The Chinese Immigration Act, known commonly as the Chinese Exclusion Act, banned virtually all Chinese immigration for the next 24 years. It stood as the most severe legislation of the more than a hundred anti-Chinese policies of the day. The successively increased head tax of $50 (1885), $100 (1900), and $500 (1903) failed to deter immigration, as intended, at a time when the vision for the country was a ‘white Canada.’

My mother, Jean Lumb, nee Toy Jin Wong, was three years old on that infamous day, but almost a year would elapse before a government bureaucrat photographed her for this official document. After all, the Chinese Exclusion Act not only halted immigration; it also required that all Chinese, whether born in Canada (as my mother was) or abroad, to register for an identification card within one year of the passage of the new law.

The card looks uninteresting in itself – a document that lived for decades in a shoebox. But in a recent interview for Ming Pao Daily News, a former employee of the now defunct Shing Wah Daily News, once the largest Chinese newspaper in North America, commented that the need to pass on and preserve this history to future generations is more urgent than ever. The connections to our past are fast fading with the loss of our elders.

Such documents will now be shared, thanks to a new initiative of the Toronto Public Library. The mandate of the Chinese Canadian Archive — which will be launched officially at a reception this evening (Tuesday) at the Toronto Reference Library – is to collect, preserve, store, and provide access for researchers and the general public.

“This archival program is a great opportunity to properly accommodate our family’s precious historic material that our children will not want to keep,” says Nelson Wong, whose father, W.C. Wong, was a prominent leader in Chinatown.

Mavis Chu Lew Garland, who grew up in Chinatown, wants others to know that her “half-Chinese family also existed in Toronto.” Garland’s sizeable donation of documents and photos reveals the extent to which her family honoured its Chinese heritage. “The items will now be available to be shared with whoever is interested in the Chinese culture, and in the people who valued them.”

Written by Randy McDonald

November 30, 2016 at 2:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto library finds savings, misses council’s target”

David Rider of the Toronto Star writes about the Toronto Public Library faced with cuts. Past a certain point, we’re going to have to find ways to pay for the nice things we need.

Toronto’s bustling library system is the latest agency to say it can’t make city council’s directive to cut 2.6 per cent of its spending without hurting services to Torontonians.

At a meeting this week, chief librarian Vickery Bowles presented the library board with 2 per cent in proposed “efficiencies,” through increased revenue from space rentals plus lower spending, thanks to technological innovations including fine payments at self-checkout terminals.

The $3.529 million in savings includes eliminating 8.7 full-time staff positions. To hit the target approved by city council at the urging of Mayor John Tory, the library would have to cut a further $1.077 million.

Unavoidable costs for negotiated salary increases plus improved services — including expanded Sunday hours at some branches — boost the library’s 2017 operating budget request to $178.8 million, or 0.9 per cent over this year’s budget.

“If TPL is required to find equivalent savings to meet the (council-directed) target, the Library would then need to implement service reductions,” Bowles wrote in her report, adding she’ll continue hunting for efficiencies.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 29, 2016 at 6:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “TPL Friends’ Book Sales x 2”

blogTO let me know about a new book sale by the Toronto Public Library.

I’m not saying that the Friends of Toronto Public Library North Chapter and the Friends of Toronto Public Library South Chapter are exactly in a competition to see who can clear out the most stuff and make the most money – but it certainly has the feel of sibling rivalry.

We can all thank them though for having their clearance sales on different weeks so we don’t have to choose. This is a great opportunity to buy a lot of interesting books, CDs and DVDs at some really affordable prices (half price at North York Central and all items 10 – 50 cents at Toronto Reference Library).

Did you know the Friends have raised over $2 million in support of Toronto Public Library programs? In 2015 the Friends donated $165,000 to Toronto Public Library, their largest combined donation in their 22 year history. Faithfull supporters of children’s literacy the Friends allocate their donation to Leading to Reading, Elementary School Outreach, Storytime Outreach, Young Voices and Family Literacy Day.

I won’t be able to make it, but perhaps you will?

Written by Randy McDonald

September 16, 2016 at 7:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto Has a Wi-Fi Problem”

Torontoist’s Anders Marshall writes about the yawning digital divide in Toronto.

According to Mayor John Tory, Toronto has a culture of “haves” and “have nots”: those with privilege, with access to resources and services—and those without them. It’s our job, the mayor told a crowd at Thorncliffe Park’s Public Library branch last month, to bridge that divide.

“I believe the best thing to do is build people up, to allow them to be everything they can be,” Tory says.

Among the resources unavailable to many is access to internet. The city has a Wi-Fi problem: though it is a necessity when it comes to job searches, education, and employment, many Torontonians cannot afford home internet packages.

In an effort to improve access, the Toronto Public Library has begun a partnership with Google Canada to create a Wi-Fi hotspot rental program.

The program completed its pilot phase in June, beginning with 210 individual mobile units. Aside from Thorncliffe, branches participating in the program include Albion, Cedarbrae, Evelyn Gregory, Parliament Street, and York Woods. Users can rent hotspots from any participating branch for six months at a time, and are allocated 10 gigabytes of data to use each month.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 13, 2016 at 6:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto public libraries, Google to offer free take-home WiFi”

This Google initiative, reported by the CBC, is a positive first step.

Toronto libraries have something new you can check out and take home: wireless internet.

Google is partnering with the city to offer portable WiFi hotspots, which will be loaned out for up to six months at a time. Six library branches, all located in low-income neighbourhoods, will offer the service.

The project’s goal is to give free internet to Torontonians who can’t afford it.

“Google hopes to give some of the most underserved in our city a way to bridge the tech divide,” the tech giant said in a news release.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 15, 2016 at 7:30 pm