Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a very public debate over the future of Toronto's libraries. The city is strapped for cash, and the proposal to cut funding to municipal libraries has stirred the ire of a number of citizens. Margaret Atwood and Doug Ford have gone to war, and everyone seems to have an opinion. Should school libraries pick up the slack? Do we need as many public libraries as we did before the days of the internet and those kindle reader things? Call me old fashioned, but I have never taken to technology and much prefer to flip through the pages of an actual book than scroll through something on a portable screen. Besides, libraries provide many services outside of lending books; almost every time I give a talk to an historical society, it's in the meeting room of the local public library. And even though I am finally considering getting my own digital projector, for years I have relied on the computer equipment and technical help given by library staff. On the other hand, if Toronto is as cash strapped as they say, and we're really and truly going broke, something somewhere has to give.
|THEN : This notice for the York Mechanics Institute illustrates how some of the most household names in old Toronto ~ Baldwin, Rolph, Jarvis, Ewart ~ supported the institute. The annual membership rate was five shillings.|
|THEN : John Hallam, the alderman behind Toronto's public library system.|
|THEN : The Mechanics Institute, northeast corner of Church and Adelaide Streets.|
|THEN : Mechanics Institute, 1867.|
|THEN : Mechanics Institute building, 1884, shortly after it became Toronto's public library.|
|THEN : The new main branch of the Toronto Public Library was built in 1909 at the northwest corner of St. George and College streets.|
|NOW : The 1909 library survives today as the Koffler Student Services Centre.|