Carnegie Libraries: Yorkville

Welcome to our fourth Ontario Carnegie Library: the Toronto Public Library’s Yorkville branch. The Toronto Public Library’s (TPL) oldest branch moved into its new Yorkville home in 1907 when it was re-located from rented space in a building nearby1. The Village of Yorkville only became part of the city of Toronto in 1883, but within a year, the Toronto Public Library had opened its first branch, and it was located in Yorkville.1

Toronto Public Library’s Yorkville Branch

As noted in previous Carnegie Library posts, this branch also features several Carnegie characteristics, such as imposing columns and wide front stairs to a single-level structure. It opened to the public on June 13, 1907, and according to the TPL1, cost a whopping $27,328.65

The last Carnegie branches that were built for the TPL (1916) omitted those well-known telltale features, but the Yorkville branch remains a classic example of the earlier Carnegie architectural style.

“TPL’s oldest branches were built when the concept of free public libraries was still new, fought for by the Public Library Movement that saw access to education as an essential antidote to the vices of the city. As a result, these first libraries (Yorkville, Annette Street) were built to imbue confidence in a newly enshrined municipal service – and are well-protected from the vices of the street by stone staircases and Doric columns.”2

Detail of the main entrance

Ten years after the Yorkville branch opened, Carnegie libraries would display “an entirely new style of one-room institutions with vaulted ceilings” that would “better serve a library’s function and better meet the needs of its patrons,” thanks to a much stronger influence of the city’s chief librarian, George H. Locke3.

In 1973 this building made it onto the Toronto Historical Board’s list of Heritage Properties, and while 1994 saw a reduction in service hours, 2010 brought about an increase, and this branch continues to serve the local community for 62 hours every week4 (pandemics notwithstanding).

For more Yorkville history, and some great photos of the branch in its early years, visit the Yorkville Library’s webpage via the TPL. Thank you again for stopping by! 💜

Sources:
1. https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/about-the-library/library-history/carnegie-yorkville.jsp
2. Rotsztain, Daniel. Globe & Mail May 22, 2015 https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/then-there-were-100-why-the-toronto-public-librarys-newest-branch-is-the-perfect-modern-library/article24572738/
3. Plummer, Kevin. Torontoist.com, Oct. 25, 2008 https://torontoist.com/2008/10/historicist_andrew_carnegies_toronto_legacy
4. https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/yorkville/
http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/libraries/carnegie.shtml

Carnegie Libraries: Woodstock

Next stop on our tour of Carnegie libraries in Ontario is the Woodstock Public Library. And what a magnificent one it is!

Woodstock Public Library, built in 1909

I’m ashamed to admit that I had no idea there was such a wealth of history and historic architecture in Woodstock. But there are a great many beautiful and well-maintained buildings in this city, and one of them is the public library. Unlike the other Carnegie libraries we have visited in this blog, the Woodstock Public Library actually began almost a century before its current home was built. According to TourismOxford.ca, a Reading Society was formed in Woodstock in 1835. It was a private group with an annual fee, and it was known as the “Woodstock Subscription Library” by 1836.

Detail of the portico

By 1840, the society had grown to 60 members, and by 1935, there were over 3,300! (WPL – history) In the gap between those years, the Carnegie Foundation provided a grant of $24,000.00, and the Woodstock Public Library opened to the public in 1909. In 1976, it was designated as a historic building.

The imposing entrance showing the characteristic ‘Carnegie stairs’ and ‘Carnegie basement’ that were so often incorporated into these libraries

The WPL has its own Twitter feed, with links to numerous resources on wellness, the promotion of literacy, programming for all ages, and a whole lot more. With all the COVID restrictions in effect lately, this library was closed when I was there, but things are starting to open up again, and we can hope that all our libraries will soon be the thriving community hubs they have always been.

Thanks again for stopping by! Stay tuned for the next installment of our Carnegie Libraries travelogue soon. 💜

Sources:
WPL History: https://www.mywpl.ca/library-history
History of Woodstock PL: www.tourismoxford.ca/listing/detail/ArticleId/12890/History-of-the-Woodstock-Public-Library.aspx
Woodstock Public Library Twitter: https://twitter.com/WoodstockLib

Carnegie Libraries: Paris

Brant Public Library – Paris branch

Andrew Carnegie is famous for his philanthropic donations in support of public libraries, and in fact, his donations resulted in 125 public libraries being built in Canada, 111 of which were in Ontario. Not all of the libraries remain in use today, but the one in Paris, Ontario still does.

Interesting tidbit: unlike many public libraries that were built near the turn of the last century, the Paris public library has been in continual use as such since it was built. A list of head librarians through the years can be found at the County of Brant Public Library Digital Collections website, along with the building’s timeline.

Paris Public Library first opened to the public on July 27, 1904.

Voted ‘the Prettiest Little Town in Canada’ by Harrowsmith Magazine, Paris is replete with natural beauty (it lies between two rivers) and architectural delights, featuring a great many well-kept Victorian buildings.

Fun fact: both Alexandrea Graham Bell and Andrew Carnegie have ties to this little town. On August 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received the world’s first successful long-distance telephone call here; and as we know, Andrew Carnegie sponsored our featured library, tying both of these great men to the humble town of Paris, Ontario.

Doric columns are featured on the library’s former facade.

I hope you enjoyed this tiny library travelogue. There are several Carnegie libraries that I plan to feature in this new section of BookNotes, so please stay tuned for the next one!

Sources:
http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/libraries/carnegie.shtml
http://images.ourontario.ca/brant/3281106/data?dis=dm
http://images.ourontario.ca/brant/2713035/data
https://oaa.on.ca/bloaag-detail/Carnegie-Libraries/327
https://www.brant.ca/en/live-and-discover/paris.aspx#

The Most Beautiful Libraries

There are always new posts and articles popping up about beautiful or interesting libraries and I thought I would combine a few, so you can get your fill of architecture and books without having to navigate to another page or site. And what better way to begin the weekend?

The 25 Most Beautiful Public Libraries in the World by Emily Temple for Flavorwire.com on January 1, 2013.
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18 Libraries Every Book Lover Should Visit In Their Lifetime by Asta Thrastardottir for Business Insider on January 1, 2015.
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The Most Spectacular Libraries in the World by The Telegraph at telegraph.co.uk
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*image retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10382588/The-most-spectacular-libraries-in-the-world.html?frame=2705761&amgpage=1. Photo by Will Pryce

For those of us who never tire of looking at these divine meldings of gorgeous spaces with their inspiring contents, perhaps you would be interested in a book of lovliness that you can hold in your hands and proudly display on your coffee table? If you are, The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World with text by Jacques Bosser and stunning photographs by Guillaume De Laubier is just the thing.
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Happy dreaming!

Budget woes and Pervy Patrons

Today’s post focuses on those hallowed institutions we learn to love at a very early age: Libraries.

An article released yesterday by the New Glasgow News is distressing for people who know that library budgets are already tight. Libraries wary of tax proposal on books is scary enough,but the opening line of the article is enough to bring a tear to the eye. “[I]f the Liberal government goes ahead with its plan to put the provincial portion of the HST on printed books, it would end up costing the library an additional $10,000 a year.” Click here for the full story. 
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Every so often, you hear of unsavoury behaviour happening in public libraries and it seems impossible until the evidence proves  that people can be weird, incomprehensible creatures. There was the Case of the Mystery Urinator in Leaminton, Ontario in December 2012, and right now, there is more head-shaking behavior coming from Windsor, Ontario. CBC.ca reports, in Live sex shows streamed from Windsor libraries.
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*Fontainebleau branch of Windsor Public Library. Image retrieved from http://www.windsorpubliclibrary.com/?page_id=1392