What makes the Leaside Library such an important part of our community? It helps that it’s physically near the centre of South Leaside, but its real draw is the books, computers and programs available.
It all started in 1943 with a small store-front association library on Bayview, where the Chocolate Messenger is now. A library site was chosen by the town council and the Leaside Public Library opened on McRae in 1950. With a complete rebuild on the same site in 2002, this is a great place to drop in to.
I was surprised when branch head Lynda Buch told me that Leaside is not in the top 10 of most used public libraries in the Toronto system, because you certainly see people coming and going throughout the day and evening. Apparently, we are beaten out by branches with a high number of Chinese readers.
There always appears to be a group gathering at the library – whether it’s for the babies, toddlers or pre-schooler program, or the seniors Tuesday afternoon history sessions in the community room, or a discussion group or a chance to meet and hear a special visiting author.
Even the surroundings in Leaside are ideal. There are gardens at the entrance. You can now enjoy the newly-established garden at the east end of the building, either from the outside walking by, or when you’re inside, sitting in a comfortable reading chair.
Both of these gardens were planted and maintained by the Leaside Garden Society, which, incidentally, meets in the Library Community Room on the second Thursday of each month. For those younger, there is a playground, with a splash pad in the summer, just to the west of the library, so youngsters can play energetically outside and then come inside for a quiet story.
When Leaside was part of the Borough of East York, there was the advantage of a library board able to concentrate on the different community needs with five branches, and with board members living in these various communities.
There was an additional benefit because the various library boards worked together within the Metropolitan Toronto system, so that for a borrower, other than having different library cards, there wasn’t much difference.
Now, there is the one library board, which means there may not be much awareness of our individual local communities. But there is a larger overall library budget to go round. Along with the technological changes of the past 15 or so years, being part of a larger system has its advantages.
Finally, two more advantages of this new library – all the public use is on the main floor. No more working your way down the steep stairs, armed with a washroom key. And when it’s raining hard, the building is actually waterproof – no more rain gushing down the inside basement stairs.
You can check what is coming at the library in the near future on the Toronto Public Library website, www.tpl.ca by going to Hours and Locations, A-Z, and then to Leaside to see everything specific to our branch.