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Toronto's Public Library system.

wild goose chase

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What do you think of our library system? Do you or did you use it very often?

I remember pretty fondly spending time as a kid and also as a teen at the library and having learned so much in the pre-internet days from all the books I read there. I sometimes even get nostalgic walking by and re-visiting some of the particular neighbourhood libraries I spent time in during the past couple of decades..

I remember reading claims that the Toronto Public Library is in terms of per-capita circulation and number of people using it, one of most highly used library systems of any major city, which would be pretty impressive if true.
 

James

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^ Interesting fact, if it is accurate. I use the public library quite often but primarily because my young kids love reading time. It's nice to have a wide selection of children's books at your disposal where you can change up your inventory every 3 weeks. I'm not sure how often people these days are taking out books, versus reading about things online, but there always seems to be activity in all the libraries I go to.
 

Skeezix

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Toronto should have a flagship public library (that isn't the Reference Library) like New York City's main public library by Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan.
If we're blue-skying it, sure. But in reality, I'm not sure that's the best expenditure of scarce dollars versus continuing to strengthen our branch system. We have an incredibly successful neighbourhood-based library network, and I think we should be building on that success.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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If we're blue-skying it, sure. But in reality, I'm not sure that's the best expenditure of scarce dollars versus continuing to strengthen our branch system. We have an incredibly successful neighbourhood-based library network, and I think we should be building on that success.
I have no problem with the concept of a circulating central library (Calgary is building one, and the newly opened Halifax Central is by all accounts a great success) - but it's important to identify whether there is a need for it. Perhaps part of the Old City Hall can be repurposed for that?

AoD
 

Skeezix

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A library in Old City Hall would be lovely. But I assumed Johnny was talking about something more substantial than a large branch in part of Old City Hall. I guess it depends on how much of Old City Hall we're talking about here.

I agree with AoD that the key question is to identify whether there is a need for it. What gaps in our current system would this "flagship" central circulating library fill, and how would this grand library achieve better results than deploying the resources to strengthening/expanding the branch network? ETA: And, as part of that question, to what extent would this flagship central branch divert resources away from the branch network?
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

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I agree with AoD that the key question is to identify whether there is a need for it. What gaps in our current system would this "flagship" central circulating library fill, and how would this grand library achieve better results than deploying the resources to strengthening/expanding the branch network?
With the population rising in the central core, it might be inevitable at some point - I don't think of it as diversion - which is suggestive of a zero sum game - but addition in response to increased need. The question is whether it make sense to build a branch that is significantly larger than the typical neighbourhood ones and just what it is supposed to do, vis-a-vis the specialized reference library.

AoD
 

Skeezix

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If we are talking about a large branch to serve the growing population of the core, then I would agree that sounds like one potential appropriate strategy to deal with increased need in that part of the city, and wouldn't necessarily be a diversion of resources depending on what is proposed. A flagship central library, however, almost inevitably would divert money, focus and resources away from our successful neighbourhood branch network, unless there was some influx of long-term, reliable cash into the system. It depends on the scope of what we are discussing - something like Montreal's Grande Bibliothèque, or Johnny mentioned the NYPL main branch, versus a new large-ish branch to serve the burgeoning core.

TPL has been incredibly successful in growing and revitalizing the network, with not a lot of funds. There is really no budget whatsoever for a grandiose central circulating library (or even, to be frank, a large-ish new branch in the core), absent some sort of unexpected windfall (as mentioned above) or a complete rethink/retrenchment of our neighbourhood branch system. And it's that neighbourhood branch system which has been key to TPL's success. Given the city's financial propsects, these decisions all too often are a zero sum game.
 
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Northern Light

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Our Library system is one of the best, anywhere.

However you measure, usage, diversity of services and locations or total hours; though that last one is their weakest point.

In the longer term I fully support opening a large, district-class, circulating branch in Old City Hall.

The province will be vacating that space and it needs a re-use.

The fact there is an existing branch right next door in the current City Hall (which would in essence be relocated) reduces some of the operating cost impacts.

However, there certainly is no room in the existing capital budget for such a project, just now.

Worth saying, however, is that the near-core will get a new 'district class' branch in the form of the replacement for the St. Lawrence Branch, when it shifts to the corner
of Front and Parliament in the next few years.

That replacement branch will be substantially larger than the one it is replacing with substantial expansion of open hours as well.

***

On the subject of hours, TPL is adding some this year, with some additional branches gaining seasonal Sunday service as at September.

I do think, however, it ought to be a priority to open EVERY branch on a Sunday, and for longer than the existing 1:30-5pm. ( A noon start sounds reasonable to me)

***

Cap-X wise the system is renovating and expanding several other branches over the next few years, including Dawes, Wychwood, and Eglinton Square, the latter of which is/was truly dismal.

All in all a great system, and very well run.
 

Johnny Au

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Old City Hall would be the most ideal location for an iconic Main Branch of Toronto Public Library. Unlike the NYPL Main Branch (despite it being built on a former reservoir), the TPL Main Branch would not be purpose-built though, which means that it would require much renovations to convert the space.

The city could accept donations and sell naming rights for various reading rooms to raise funds. Yes, it would replace the small branch at the current City Hall.
 

Admiral Beez

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What do you think of our library system? Do you or did you use it very often?
I frequently use the audio books on the online TPL site. It's a great way to get a book for a long drive without paying for audible.com rates.

My local library, Parliament and Gerrard seems to be frequented by vagrants and the insane, both seemingly looking for a place to mutter to themselves or defecate. I usually drive my kids to the Leaside branch where they can view books without the crazies. The Coxwell and Gerrard branch is nice too, and we've walked over there many times.
 

Admiral Beez

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Old City Hall would be the most ideal location for an iconic Main Branch of Toronto Public Library. Unlike the NYPL Main Branch (despite it being built on a former reservoir), the TPL Main Branch would not be purpose-built though, which means that it would require much renovations to convert the space.
We already have an iconic main branch, the Reference Library and Yonge and Bloor.
 

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