Paul Ryan pre-election party at Jason’s house!

It’s here!

‘Atlas Shrugged’ DVD on iPad showing previous entry

The public library, an institution Ayn Rand would have liquidated on her first day as elected despot, has finally delivered my copy of Atlas Shrugged (“Part 1”). True to the spirit of rugged individualism, the item is equipped for rational self-checkout.

I had previously suggested that gay Objectivist speed-dater Jason Holborn hold a superfun teetotaler viewing party for this chef-d’œuvre. Let’s make it a twofer! We can now pre-celebrate Paul Ryan’s inevitable victory as “next president of the United States.”

Everyone’s invited (NO FATS – NO FEMS – NO ASIANS).

The Browsery rummage sale

Remember my endless complaints about the slapdash, slipshod, haphazard Browsery at the Reference Library? It’s the highest-profile real estate in the Canadian public-library system, I correctly maintain, and it’s a mess.

It’s gotten worse. Now the two highest-profile shelves in that highest-profile location have been turned into rummage sales, with one crappy book piled atop another. (By explicit order, a librarian told me.)

Books on shelf piled face-up
Books on Best Bets shelf piled face-up

I am now at the point where I told a TPL manageress her defence of this nonsense is bullshit. It is.

  • The Browsery has too many Best Bets for the size of their display case. There is room left over inside the shelving units whose pristine tops the library refuses to use as display space. Either cull the collection (preferable; overflow books do not move) or shelve that overflow somewhere else.

  • The main display case, which still has no agreed-upon name, is unequivocally reserved for the newest and/or the most interesting and/or unique items of all descriptions. Old books people can look up for themselves. Seriously: The building is full of old crap and this display case is not to be used for whatever untrained staff feel like dumping there. Why is this not obvious?

The library has put a lot of effort at other branches – Cliffcrest, Gladstone – into developing face-out shelving, with good visual merchandising at the latter. Why the resistance here?

The Browsery is run by people with bad taste, no eye, no interest in customer experience, and, worst of all, no drive to improve. This issue needs to be taken out of their hands.

This is how lousy the DVDs are at the Reference Library Browsery

Every time I go there, and every time everybody else goes there, the TRL Browsery presents the same irrelevant oldies, B‑ and C-tier catalogue items, and home-renovation shows. Meanwhile, the rare new, interesting, or special DVDs are mixed into the dross. (I told you this already.)

This is no way to run a railroad.

Don’t believe me? Cue up your “There’s no accounting for taste” argument, look through my photo set, and try to make a serious case that the most valuable real estate in Canadian libraries does even an adequate job sorting, weeding, and presenting its DVDs.

‘Score,’ ‘Fail-Safe,’ Ron James, the Canadian Tenors, ‘A Farewell to Arms’

Most of these discs are plunked onto trucks in the middle of the floor. They provide the misleading impression of a bounty of cinema. They’re mostly crap (and you know it!), and it’s the same crap every day. Most of these should be simply withdrawn, with a few of them sent to other branches (like oldies to Beaches). If you’re a regular there, you see the same lousy discs over and over again as you plod through the collection trying to find something remotely interesting. The wooden display case – with what should be high pride-of-place – holds the worst of the worst, many of which find their way face-front. It’s a disaster.

Basically the Browsery head agrees with me on every point listed above. But since I’m the one suggesting changes, no changes have been made – anywhere, at all. The Browsery head, and TPL in general, would prefer to keep making mistakes, to keep making life worse for library patrons, than to take my advice and improve.

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.