Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear Spadina Road Branch of the Toronto Public Library

Dear Spadina Road Branch of the Toronto Public Library,

This is a love letter.

Though I’ve actually had a crush on you for years, and on this city’s whole public library system, but lately you, Spadina Road Branch, have truly captured my heart. Though you’re not very big, your hours are few, and there is often somebody asleep on your lawn, you have had an enormous impact on my life.

Though always an avid reader, I was not such a regular patron until my daughter was born in May. Upon my baby’s birth, I found the whole world had shrunk to the size of a small city block, and it took a long time to find my way around it again.

When my daughter was six weeks old, she joined the library. The library was a destination in an otherwise empty and lonely day, but it was fun to get her card, to select books that I would enjoy reading to her at home. I also borrowed children’s CDs so we could listen to music together. And after that, I began visiting the library once a week, taking out new books and music, and DVDs to watch with my husband, borrowing books from your collection about baby sign language, baby massage, games I could play with my daughter, and child development. And slowly, I started to feel like I knew what I was doing.

In August, we were invited to join a Baby/Toddler group meeting weekly throughout the month. This was informal programming, organized by staff with limited resources, in response to requests from other patrons. And the group became the highlight of our week, such an enjoyable way to spend an hour, and we learned wonderful new songs and games. When my husband came home from work at the end of the day, he’d be eager to learn whatever we’d picked up at the library that morning, and these songs and games have become some of our baby’s favourites. We look forward to returning to the Baby group later this month.

And then there’s your people, Spadina Road. Perhaps I should have started with your staff, for this is the point that I mean most of all. Being at home all day with my baby is harder than I ever imagined it would be, and some days are more trying than others, but all is usually assuaged with a walk through your automatic doors. Your staff is so kind and friendly to me, sweet to my baby, helpful with my requests and I’m always greeted warmly. Which makes such a big difference on the hardest day, and I hope your staff realize how much value they add to customers’ experience.

That because of them, the library is not just a destination, but one of my favourite places to go, and I feel so lucky to live in your neighbourhood.

So thank you, Spadina Road Branch, with love forever and ever,

Kerry Clare and Baby Harriet