My home branch, Jones

Let’s start off this blog close to home – my home, anyway – with a pæan to one of the smaller of the TPL’s 99 branches, Jones.

Located in the heart of the action at Jones and Dundas, it is one of five libraries serving Riverdale, South Riverdale (if you want to use that real-estate term), Leslieville, and Riverside. (The others are Pape, Riverdale, Gerrard–Ashdale, and Queen–Saulter. Maybe also Danforth–Coxwell.) I’m not sure many people are aware it exists, or how close it is to the two main drags, Queen and Gerrard. You can walk there from either street (it’s visible from Queen and Jones), you can take the slow 83 Jones bus if you really must, and there’s actually parking for two cars if you want to drive.

The library opened in 1962 and has been renovated a couple of times. Here’s how it looked circa 1983:

Single-storey building with stone sides, a flat roof, and giant pagodas over the recessed entrance

I like the architecture of the little building, though perhaps the pagoda is a bit much. Elsewhere, I wrote:

The Jones Library is a tidy, self-contained slab, complete with stone walls, that is situated approximately in the middle of nowhere. As such, it is one of Toronto’s many hidden Modernist treasures…. Four years ago the library got a new floor (dark hardwood or a very convincing facsimile) and new shelves. There’s a skylight that is admittedly too bright in the summer. It would be a prototypical neighbourhood branch if it weren’t such a nice piece of architecture. And because it’s named after the street, it too has a weirdly baldfaced and barren name, the kind of thing that puts you off from dropping by to visit. What a surprise once you see the place.

Leslieville is a mixed-income, mixed-use neighbourhood, and the Jones branch collection does a good job of serving many competing interests. There are always old Chinese guys sitting around reading the newspapers (at the special Chinese table, carefully segregated from the English papers and table). Easily a third of the floor space is the children’s area. But it’s the periodicals that show the true mix of the neighbourhood. Surely this is the only branch that subscribed to Muslim Girl and to the Advocate, an American gay magazine. They’ve got wrestling magazines and the New Yorker, plus a lot of magazines that appeal to upper-middle-class women who do yoga and like pretty things that smell nice.

The really interesting fact is that everyone at Jones, save for the young pages, knows exactly who I am. They notice when I’m mentioned in the paper, they know off the top of their heads how many holds I’ve received, and they gamely handle relatively complex interlibrary-loan requests, though not without a few hiccups. At least one librarian keeps mental track of the sort of books I check out, which might seem Orwellian were it not for the fact that it’s a waste of time – I publish the full list of all the books I read.

Jones is a branch that lives in the reality of its neighbourhood. It handles me, it handles old Chinese guys, it handles Muslim girls, it handles everybody.

Now, what’s your branch like?

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7 thoughts on “My home branch, Jones

  1. Hm. I don’t know if “South Riverdale” is only a real estate, it seems to have been in use for some time. For example, the South Riverdale Child-Parent Centre is over 30 years old. I don’t think real estate was much of a factor in naming the area at that time (nor would the SRCPC be likely to use a name that was just a real estate term)

  2. Surely this is the only branch that subscribed to Muslim Girl and to the Advocate, an American gay magazine.

    According to the “hideous new catalogue,” North York Central and St. James Town also hold both of these periodicals.

  3. My local is Coxwell/Danforth and seems quite suited to the neighbourhood – always busy but never overcrowded in my experience. However, relocation across the road to overhead the Coxwell subway station would be awesome, with the level extended over the bus bays to ensure no loss of space. It would be nice to be able to pick up/drop off a book when transferring from the 70 bus to the subway or the 22 bus.

  4. My local branch is Pape/Danforth, just one subway stop East of my normal station and a pleasant short walk home. To be honest I haven’t spent very much time there; instead, I tend to use it as a pick up & drop off for holds. I only moved to the area recently, so I don’t know what it was like prior to the 2005/2006 renovation but it’s nice now.

    A fun note: TPLs profile of the branch (linked above) says that the lone meeting room seats 45 but the fire code occupancy is only 30 (?).

  5. My local is Sanderson, a small branch at Dundas and Bathurst. Although I use it mostly for pickup and drop-off, I appreciate the changes made during the recent renovations: new paint and flooring plus some rearranging of things makes it seem much more open and light. It’s very much a community branch, with the computer desks filled with relatively well-behaved grade-schoolers, and after-school programs offering homework mentoring and programs for non-native English speakers. It always has a friendly feel about it, and the library staff are very nice. Still no wifi in that branch, however.

    When Sanderson was closed in January for renovations, I had a chance to switch temporarily to Lilian H. Smith as my home branch. It is much larger and a really lovely space, as well as having wifi, but I didn’t find the staff nearly as friendly as at Sanderson: one of the desk staff shouted at people to get them to step up to the counter for checkout as we approached closing time one night. However, I was there one night for a meeting held in the basement meeting rooms, and there is a great meeting room down there: it holds 50+ people, and the library wifi is accessible from there. There is a funky sort of castle theme going on down there, with faux torches on the curved staircase and wall coverings made to look like stone blocks – weird but cool!

  6. My local branch is Mount Pleasant, a teeny tiny branch built in a storefront in the nineties, as part of a Take The Library To The People initiative. I love it because it has a nice enclosed area with kids’ books (plus lots of stuffed animals and a huge window seat to play in) and the kids’ selection is great. (Kid books are skinny so you can fit more of them into a small space.)

    The staff are wonderful – they all know me and as with Joe, one or two of them have an idea of what I’ve read and the kinds of things I like. In fact, not only do they know me (and my children and husband), they know who my friends are! We often use the library as a rendezvous since there’s plenty to do if someone is late. In fact, I have been known to leave messages for my friends with the librarians! Awesome, right?

    Dulcie the head librarian (it would be so much more impressive if I actually knew her last name) is starting up lots of great programs – we have a non-fiction book club, a mystery book club, the usual collection of kids’ programs, we’re going to do a community reading of Loyalty Management by Glen Downie, and on and on. For a tiny branch we punch above our weight.

    Yeah. I love the library.

  7. My local branch is Wychwood. It’s a great place to go on a cold day. Very quiet, private study cubicles as well.

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