Sunday, November 24, 2013

Support our libraries

Just back from a most heartening event - a "Save our libraries" rally at City Hall. When I arrived at 1.45, there were only a few people there, and my heart sank. But by the time we got rolling, the room was full, with more arriving, a diverse group, all ages. My people. By 2.15, the chambers were packed, including several Cabbagetown friends. The library spokespeople detailed how much the library budgets and staff have been cut, just as the need for them has grown. There was a chart showing the relative use of libraries in the largest American cities - and Toronto is by far the greatest.

They showed a fantastic little film about the library, made by two young men who were nominated for an Oscar a few years ago.

Click here to see it. 

When they called for the public to speak, a young man stood up to say that he grew up in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood, a heavy crime area, and that his own life was saved by the library.  Hooray. I was just at the Parliament branch yesterday, picking up a book I'd ordered online - Ann Patchett's "This is the story of a happy marriage," a book of essays that has just been released, and now I have my own copy for the next 3 weeks. Thank you, God and the taxpayers of Toronto, for the library.

A few words on ... aging. Last night, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and recoiled. Oh my, who is that old bag? Yes. Moi - my wrinkles more pronounced, my waistline newly vanished. It has just disappeared. But what the hell, I'm alive. C'est la vie.

Last night I watched a documentary about John F. Kennedy on PBS, and, of course, wept. Yes, he was more flawed than we knew, and yet, the man was gorgeous, cultured, intelligent, a writer - he won a Pulitzer Prize! - and he probably saved the world from nuclear holocaust. The program took us through the Cuban missile crisis, how close the world was to annihilation, American generals pushing for retaliation, punishment, unleashing the arsenal ...

Imagine if George Bush had been President. We wouldn't be here.

But we are. And to celebrate, here is the Ode to Joy - Beethoven on the streets of Spain. Sheer joy, indeed.


  1. As a lifelong member of the public library, Here! Here! to sentiments expressed in the video. Over here in Britain serious cuts have also been made resulting in many branch libraries being closed or being run by committed volunteers, outrageous

  2. Sorry to hear the madness extends to England too, Carole. As they pointed out yesterday, unfortunately, tax cuts equal service cuts, and that means libraries, among other vital things.

  3. Libraries are amazing things, and too many people forget that. It is a huge thrill to know my books are in libraries all over the world, including Toronto's. Canadians are also classy enough to offer library royalties to authors, based on usage of their books. I'll be curious to see if I get anything from it.

  4. I'm sure you will. Yes, it's great to be in the public library system. You know there's a website that can track your book all over the world. Thrilling.