Posted by: bluesyemre | October 23, 2018

Simply put, #libraries are incredible


“While the library has clearly embraced the digital world to meet its customer needs in 2018, it’s not necessarily obvious to the general public.” BECKY GUTHRIE/NATIONAL POST/GETTY IMAGES

Sadaf Ahsan: Unlike so many industries that have been disrupted by technological advances, libraries across North America have shown an uncanny ability to adapt…

It’s 4:33 p.m. on the Saturday of a long weekend, and the Toronto Reference Library is set to shut its doors in 27 minutes — not exactly on the dot, but close enough. Despite the looming deadline, the five-storey structure, iconic for its sprawling, curved atrium designed by architect Raymond Moriyama, remains packed from floor to floor.

Groups of high-school students huddle around a colour photocopier on the fifth, while on the fourth, a young couple make out unaware of the French anthologies and poetry books surrounding them. On the third, an older woman takes notes from an Italian cookbook that has seen better days, as just about every study pod remains occupied by readers on the second.

It’s the first floor, however, that contains the most action: students clamour around laptops, barely suppressing laughter; an Indian couple chat with a woman at the “Newcomers to Canada” kiosk; and a man furtively argues with his partner on a payphone by the restrooms. At the centre of the main floor, study carrels with computers are arranged in a circle. It’s here where a 56-year-old homeless woman has been camped out since noon, with several duffel bags nestled at her nook. “It’s starting to get colder and it’s warm here,” she tells me. “And that’s nice after the shelter closes. I like being around other people who are just doing their own thing, it doesn’t feel like I’m bothering anyone, they don’t notice me, I don’t notice them. It feels safer than being outside, you know?” Meanwhile, the teenager next to her dances at his desk with his headphones on while watching music videos. Unbothered, a woman beside him quietly takes a practice driving test.

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