Today I schlepped out to 2380 Eglinton East for the reopening of Kennedy Eglinton Branch. (There isn’t a slash between the words on the outside sign.)
First of all, do you know how hard it is to walk out of Kennedy station and get yourself onto Eglinton? With thunder and lightning going on? I got inside just before the monsoon hit.
It’s a nice place. Better than St. James Town, a similar pig in a poke (i.e., making a library branch out of a couple of rooms somebody handed you). Bruce Stratton, the architect, did a good job carving out discernible zones, but he couldn’t actually point to any feature he was actually “proud” of. (I gave him two chances!) However, every surface that looks real is real, including the countertops, which are genuine Corian®. (It costs more than granite and wears better. Also, how much granite is left in the world?)
I chatted with various library potentates. Everybody had heard of this blog, even a librarian who had been shipped in for the day. I was kind of kicking myself for having missed the reopenings of S. Walter Stewart and Jane(/)Sheppard. And apparently the Juliet balcony at Wychwood can’t be used because the building code changed and the railings are too low. Still, they hope to get the same architect who did over Beaches proper (Carter) to reno that branch.
A brand-new library has brand-new materials, and I joined in on a proud Scarborough tradition of scrabbling like starving refugees at the new DVD/CD bank, straight out of a record store. (Do those still exist?) It’s an OK way to “merchandise” audio CDs, but it’s lousy for DVDs, since the proportions are all wrong to flip through them. (I knocked over two different stacks.) You really need to see the spines.
They’ve got those infernal self-checkout machines here, which again didn’t work but at least don’t attempt to work in Urdu. There’s a computer learning centre of some kind, complete with large-screen display, that uses every smidgen of its tiny space.
Apparently Version 1.0 of the branch was a total dump and about 40% the current size. (It was just one room with an overlarge circulation desk.) Bloviating councillor Michael Thompson congratulated “the community” for having gotten rid of a disreputable neighbour. I asked a guy – quite possibly a former brakeman of the Russian bobsleigh team – what he was talking about, and it turns out to have been a bar. Maybe you don’t want that right next door to a library. This I can understand.
They served cake, fruit and vegetable plates, sammiches, lemonade.
Most curious detail? One person after another kept yanking at the door that used to be the entrance, oblivious to these facts:
- The door was locked. Pulling it a second, third, or fourth time won’t unlock it. (Otherwise think how easy it would be to rob a bank vault.)
- There was a chair on the other side of the door.
- The door clearly says the entrance had moved.
So I dunno. It may take a while for the people accustomed to the urban decay and outright contempt communicated by the surrounding strip mall to adjust to the fact that the city spent money making something nice just for them.