Lillian H. Smith #100Branches

Lillian H. Smith
Date of visit: 10 January 2023
Arrival Time: 1:32 pm
Checked out: Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

I had to get some books for my course at Knox College from Victoria’s Emmanuel College Library so after climbing the twisty wooden staircase for my books, I spent the morning there catching up with my readings. The shelves were pristine, and the you could hear a pin drop. It’s a bit of a departure from the library where I work, which isn’t a slag, just an observation about funding and class and how it pretty much rules everything and anything.

Afterwards, I wandered down St. George street, bobbing in and out of UofT students lining up for poutine and dumplings. I made my way to College Street and to the Lillian H Smith branch. I stood outside for a minute to admire the eagles flanking the front door and and the bike share racks on the east side of the branch. If I can ever summon my nerve to bike downtown again, this might be a great option for getting around to branches when the weather improves.

The Lillian H. Smith branch is well known for its children’s collection, both circulating and rare. The main floor children’s area is large and brightly lit, if a little dated (perhaps a smidge above “moderately dingy”). There’s a lot of neat art work on the walls and a good size area reserved for families with reading tables that could double as climbers. It was empty, save one very earnest adult who was attempting to read a picture book to a toddler. He in turn was in turn, singularly engrossed in ripping up a large envelope. I nodded silently in sympathy — at that age, my daughter’s favourite part of visiting the library was pressing the water fountain button.  I suspect that may still be true.

I made my way upstairs and after a few laps of the collection, I decided on the best seat, which I determined to be at one of the three large group tables overlooking College St. It was all pretty quiet, except for a man at the next table snoring irregularly, but very loudly. I sat for awhile, making notes and taking in the view, then did another lap around the 2nd floor to check things out. By my count, 5 of the 22 people on the second floor were using a print title, while the rest stared quietly at laptops and phones.  Seems about right these days.

I took the elevator to the 4th floor to check out the Osbourne Collection. I spent a good while wandering through the current exhibit on Fairies, which was great fun. An impressive collection, and a great branch to begin my #100Branches project.