On my maiden voyage addressing the board, I didn’t expect absolutely nothing to happen. I certainly didn’t expect the board to be baffled into stupefaction by its own procedures, which board secretary (“Administrative Coordinator, City Librarian’s Office”) Nancy Marshall insisted I follow.

I expected to be ignored, an active choice. I didn’t expect nothing to happen.

Further: I am in the top percentile of civilians who follow the minutiæ of the library. Yet I had Janet Davis tell me, in that quiet tone she adopts that cannot help but sound condescending, that the circulation budget was restored in Raymond Cho’s successful motion at Council. It was? I have no explanation as to how I did not know this fact. If it is.

I expected TTC levels of feigned interest. (And TTC-like deployment of procedure to nullify my contribution.) But I didn’t expect nothing.

Barring calamity, though, I am going to outlive the hacks, pikers, ringers, and lobbyists – and the Mr. Magoo manqué – now seat-filling the board. Of course they’re going to stonewall me to the extent possible. (And, because it’s a public institution, I’ll be able to prove it.) Here’s a shocker, though: I’ve decided to kill them with kindness.

When the Toronto Transit Commission were being dicks, I decided there were enough transit fans out there to arrange a tour of the unique design of subway stations. Thus was born the TTC Type & Tile Tour, held across consecutive Sundays to quite a bit of acclaim. In fact, the other week a chick walked up to me in the subway and asked me to put on another tour.

I will. But this time, we’ll tour the library.

Pre-announcing the
Sue-Ann Levy Memorial Library Crawl

Are you a leftard? A right-wing asshole? Does it vary by the day? Are you neither? Well, come one, come all to a whirlwind tour of signature Toronto Public Library branches.

We’ll wait till the snow melts a little, and you’ll need a handful of tokens or a TTC pass, but expect krazy mixed-up shit like:

  • A tour of the first eight feet of depth of the Hariri Pontarini–designed Pape/Danforth branch

  • Tripling, in one fell swoop, the occupancy of the superdelightful Todmorden Room

  • A tragic tale of RFID Gone Wrong at the oldest branch in the city, Yorkville

  • A quiet interlude in the contemplation tank at Gladstone, assuming it hasn’t been deemed a safety hazard again, which it obviously isn’t

  • Flat-out fandom at the sight of renovation done right at Runnymede

First attendee to set off an alarm walking into a branch gets a vintage library copycard loaded with five Canadian dollars.

If all goes well, we can do the same thing a month later in another corner of the city. Say, hasn’t Northern Elms been in the news lately? I daresay it could use a dozen people showing up at once. Or we could just do the Bookmobile. I promise you that would be the highlight of your week.

Don’t worry, TPL!

You’ll have plenty of notice to fill the affected branches with security guards and worried “femwriters” transfixed with deer-in-headlights expressions. But you can’t keep us out. If you’re smart, you’ll come along. Why wouldn’t you? You’re invited. Everybody is.

Are you Sue-Ann Levy?

You can come too! We can trade hamentaschen recipes and dish! dish! dish! about what’s wrong with Pride.


Bookmobile as political statement

On Thursdays, the civic building that had its library ripped out, Metro Hall, hosts Bookmobile 2. I visit as a political statement, even in a snow squall.

Woman adjusts right-side mirror of bookmobile, parked on snowy concrete slabs

It’s not like people don’t use this thing.

People line up for the tiny mini-Bookmobile

In fact, I witnessed someone on the bus actually getting a new library card the other week. She was doing it for the E-books, she said, and was surprised and delighted to see the library “even” lent DVDs.

Victory lap

To celebrate last night’s squeaker victory over the philistines, I thought I’d do a victory lap of local branches, where I would hand back Jason Statham movies and adopt the corniest thumbs-up gesture practicable.

  • Me handing back ‘Crank 2: High Voltage’ at Jones
  • Me handing back ‘The Transporter 3’ at Queen/Saulter

Unwatchably trashy Jason Statham movies, I should say, at the risk of tautology. My friends were quite game to cower behind their monitors and play along.

Oh, and what other trash did I pick up on that same trip?

Now begins the process of truth and reconciliation. It’s gonna have to start with apologies from wrongdoers. See you at the next board meeting.

I have something to say to Mike Del Grande and Cesar Palacio

And it’s this: “Go fuck yourselves.” These politicians are trying to censor materials at the Toronto Public Library.

Only Toronto could be run by philistines who think 100 copies of one movie they want to prevent the public from borrowing justifies ridding the system of cinema and periodicals. That is actually what’s been proposed – and it could still happen!

  • Mike Del Grande, Toronto Star, 2011.11.29:

    Councillor Mike Del Grande, responding to the furor over proposed cuts to library hours, told reporters Tuesday that library users can access new releases like Pirates of the Caribbean at any of the [library’s] 98 branches.

    “Should the city library become a Blockbuster?” Del Grande said.

    Blockbuster closed its Canadian stores in two stages starting last summer. Rogers Video will close 63 stores coast to coast.

    Mike Del Grande is a man who grew up poor and wants to impose that same kind of privation on everyone else even in a time of budget surplus. Del Grande was hurt growing up, and, by God, everyone else is gonna feel his pain.

  • Cesar Palacio, a city councillor who is actually on the TPL Board, dared to propose the library rid itself of “popular” DVDs and all magazines. (He claims to mean “popular” magazines, but since Palacio believes the only purposes of a library are “literacy and library purposes” [sic], he really means all of them.)

So: Two city councillors, one of them a boardmember, want the busiest public library in the world to be stripped of cinema and periodicals. And it could still happen under proposed budget cuts, which, I infer, have been intentionally crafted to be reachable if magazines, DVDs, and all forms of literacy and outreach programming were eliminated.

But anyway, isn’t all this just “common sense”? The Toronto Public Library, which right-wing politicians don’t even use, really is overrun with Hollywood product and other “trash.” Isn’t it?

Nope. Continue reading “I have something to say to Mike Del Grande and Cesar Palacio”