TPLFans offers a gracious welcome to Toronto Public Library boardmembers, with barely any ulterior motive

Whether you’re a pol, a seatfiller, a piker, a retiree, ungraduated, somehow implicated in multiculturalism, Mr. Magoo, a registered lobbyist, a registered lobbyist, or a registered lobbyist, TPLFans is the right place for you.

Please. Make yourselves at home here. Set off an RFID alarm, pull up a chair, and rip a DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean to your Wintel laptop. You’re among friends.

The wrong fate for Glad Day

Back dans la journée, I had suggested that the library buy out Glad Day Books, the customer-hostile, musty, superannuated, perennially failing gay bookstore.

The owner put it up for sale this year, and I spent a while trying to think up a way to present the idea to TPL for real. (I did dash off a quick mail, summarily ignored.) I decided it would have to be a joint venture among TPL, probably Robarts, and the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives. The whole shebang could be bought for 50 grand tops, I figured. TPL and Robarts could split the book collection, TPL would get all the videos, and CLGA would trot away with the porn, giggling all the while.

But, sadly, Glad Day has been “saved” by a group of investors that overlaps considerably with the “LGBTQQI2S*” contingent that is systematically eviscerating gay Toronto. Glad Day will cease to be a gay men’s bookstore with significant lesbian content and will become some kind of amorphously defined multicultural community hub that will help blacks, Muslims, and trannies feel better about themselves.

Frankly, if that was the option on the table, the store should simply have closed. And the best form of closure would in fact have been the complete buyout I envisioned, which, an article in the current Fab suggests, could have been done for at most $20,000.

Glad Day was a store with great inventory that you could barely stand to enter, let alone shop in, because of obnoxious management and staff. It will now devolve into a store with a political ideology that will denude the stock of anything male and repel what amounts to its core customer base. Had TPL and partners bought out this failing business, it would have been possible to place a hold on wonderful and hard-to-find gay and lesbian books and movies from anywhere in town and enjoy them in the comfort and privacy of your home – without being ignored by staff listening to John Scythes holler his half of a conversation from the back room or having Michael Went or El-Farouk Khaki offer a quick re-education course on how you are actually the oppressor.

None of this is hypothetical

I wrote this after perusing Querelle: The Film Book at Reference.

Spread from ‘Querelle: The Film Book,’ featuring Brad Davis in a sailor suit, and this article on an iPad

The library is a place that knows what freedom to read really means. It would have stewarded Glad Day’s collection responsibly and for the common good. The new owners view the collection, like gay men, as problems to be solved.

What does the library do with Blu-ray discs?

When they buy a 2-for-1 item that includes DVD and Blu-ray, they do the smart thing and just send them both out. (If they’re using DVD-style packaging. Blu-ray packages are repackaged.)

RFID-tagged DVD of ‘African Cats’ on left side, Blu-ray on right

I don’t see any reason to collect Blu-ray-only titles. Do you?

Swaperoo

I have been going around promoting one idea in two guises. The idea is for branches with subject-matter collections that are collecting dust to swap them out with branches where they would be in high demand.

  • The Reference Library Browsery DVD collection contains dozens of classic Hollywood movies from the early and mid-20th century. I’ve been flipping through these same titles, in almost the same order, for something like two years. They never move. The TRL Browsery audience is top-heavy with transients, students, and ESL learners, with a few inside-baseball types like me who mine it for items they can keep for three loan periods. The Browsery simply does not attract the seniors and near-seniors with a hunger for old movies.

    But Beaches does, and the previous branch head had complained to me that no matter what they do, they cannot request classic Hollywood movies from central processing. After sitting on the idea (for no good reason!) for ages, I finally filed a request via Answerline to simply send all those unused Browsery DVDs to Beaches. Answerline responded, but neither the Browsery nor the Beaches branch head has done so. (Actually, Elizabeth at TRL and I really need to talk in general.)

  • For manga books and anime DVDs, the situation is different. Some branches attract next to no interest (e.g., Beaches). At others, teens and other enthusiasts “devour” the entire collection and are left with no meat on the bones. But the same thing happens at other branches’ respective collections.

    The answer, then, is for branches to do a big swaperoo of each other’s manga and anime collections. This turns out not to be straightforward. And it’s a lot of work rejigging the owning branch in the database, applying and removing stickers on the items, and dicking around with RFID tags. Nonetheless, I hope a samizdat pilot project in this regard will get underway shortly.

I note that one of the subject-matter experts (there are at least two) shot down my theories that the library overbought anime DVDs and that the fans are so heavily divided into silos (Neon Genesis Evangelion fans will never watch Hikaru-no-go) that there’s no crossover. False in both cases, I’m told.

Also, Neon Genesis Evangelion has to be the strangest Japlish title ever. Doesn’t it take five or ten minutes just to enunciate the last word? And there sure were a lot of manga paperbacks suddenly added to mini–Bookmobile Two this week.

Kooky fun fact: Years ago I found two perfect Sailor Moon VHS tapes left out in somebody’s recycling. These are now living out their days on the bottom shelf of the video étagère at Jones if you want ’em.