Right in the heart of the Beach, just a few steps from the intersection of Queen Street and Lee Avenue is the Beaches Library, a stunning building designed by architect, civirtualtours Eden Smith in the 17th Century English Collegiate Grammar School Style. A $50,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York City to the Toronto Public Library facilitated the construction. The current building replaced a storefront library and was opened in December of 1916.
Two other nearly identical libraries (the Wychwood and High Park Branch) were opened around the same time, and George Locke, the chief librarian wanted,vitamondo the three buildings to “bring to the minds of the people of the outlying districts some recollection of the Scottish and English village type architecture. The design was actually considered to be a “decided revolt” from the Classical styling of other Carnegie libraries.
The building is impressive and features a soaring hammer-beamed ceiling, a plain stone fireplace, lead-glass casement windows, and a minstrel gallery. In 2004, 1stchoicepestcontrol the western section of the Library was renovated and restored and reopened to the public in January of 2005. The new two-level wing represents a harmonious architectural addition to the existing building that integrates extremely well into the design. Since 1979 the Toronto Beaches Library has been included in the Inventory of Toronto Heritage Properties.
I had had several opportunities to visit the Beaches Library: as a meeting place for historic tours with Gene Domagala, when Barbara Weissmann, the Branch, randygoodwin Head of the library, provided me with historical background information about the Beach, and as a special stop in my Beach tour with Sandra Bussin, who considers the Beaches Library her favourite building in the Beach.
One evening I dropped by and talked to Eniko Szabo, the children’s librarian, and she informed me about the various programs that are being offered to children and adults at the Beaches Library. Eniko herself is also a puppeteer who puts on a variety of animated shows for children throughout the year.
Both Barbara and Eniko directed me to a variety, al3abgame of special places in the building: the main floor multi-purpose room with the fireplace, the comfortable sitting areas on both levels of the west wing which according to Eniko provide some of the best sunset views in Toronto; a majestic view from the gallery over the Reading Hall; a historic tapestry that was created as a community project, and the original water fountain that has been preserved throughout the years.
The Beaches Library primarily features English print material, fiction and non-fiction for adults, teens and children as well as videos, DVDs and CDs. In addition, it also has an extensive local history collection as well as a wide selection of audio books, a career information collection, optoki English as a Second Language materials, language learning kits, a large print collection and French language collections for both adults and children. The Beaches Library is one of the most active libraries in the Toronto Public Library system, one of the largest and busiest library systems in the world. Public usage has increased dramatically since the 2005 reopening after the renovation, attesting to the popularity of this library branch.
A variety of special events are also held at the Beaches Library, including a weekly “Wednesday Afternoon at the Movies” featuring classic and contemporary feature films every Wednesday at 2 pm. Beaches Book Lovers is a monthly drop-in for book discussions. The Teen Programs at the Beaches Library include Anime Films for March Break and a Knitting Circle that teaches basic stitches and how to knit a funky scarf. The Knitting Circle is also offered for children ages 7 and up. The popular Storytimes programs are offered for children of different ages including Babytime, Toddler Time and Preschool Storytime.