Toronto treasure

Yesterday whilst killing time after dropping the boys off at a workshop downtown, I came face to face with this guy:Image

O, wondrous strange! It’s the Lillian H Smith branch of the public library, home of the Merril SciFi & Fantasy Collection and the city’s Children’s Literary Archive.Image

These friendly beasts and the award-winning building they guard aren’t nearly as old as they look. Somehow the mid-1990s design-build incorporated art deco elements like checkerboard tiles and brass doors without falling into cheap pastiche.

ImageBeautiful natural light and a soaring central atrium give this library a fantastical-yet-comfy feel.  The 4th-floor archives feature multiple research rooms and a gallery space displaying thoughtfully curated exhibits and artifacts, including what was, until recently, the world’s smallest book.

I came away with a new sabbatical goal (as if I need more!): incorporate a class trip to this place into my syllabus–maybe even a hands-on project in the archives. Might be tricky for the Fairy Tales & Fantasy (100 students) or Gothic Horror (80+), but when it comes to teaching I never say never….Image

2 thoughts on “Toronto treasure

  1. What a beautiful space. I remember visiting the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris a few years ago to see an exhibit on the Middle Ages. Ravishing books, ephemera, manuscripts — and the small boy accompanying us was in heaven to see so many dragons, swords, etc.


  2. That’s our library. I love that griffin, too, and I have many photos of my Griffin standing in front of it. If you go up to the Osbourne Collection room, you can buy book plates with that griffin drawn by Maurice Sendak. I think they also have book bags.


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