Tag Archives: Mississauga Central Library

About Libraries

Activity Being Avoided: None. It’s a writing day. I’m allowed to be doing this.
Music In My Head: Kaa Khem — Yat-Kha
Tea Being Drunk: None. It’s water. I celebrated the civic holiday with chocolate cake, and I now have the same stomach ache I recall from childhood.
Books Being Read: Rebecca–Daphne du Maurier, My Happy Days in Hell–George Faludy

The Globe and Mail published this on Friday: Amid growing demand, GTA libraries are helping to fill a social-services gap

That’s my library they’re talking about at the beginning of the article.

Much as I appreciate this article, I’d like to correct the author: libraries have always filled a social-services gap.

 The small town I grew up in didn’t have a lot for kids like me: there were church groups and Brownies, and sport things. As a child, I had some friends but was more interested in books. (The inside covers of my childhood books all have death threats for the sister who had the audacity to thieve from my shelves.) I was eleven years old when I started volunteering at the local library. Very likely, I wasn’t what the average librarian might call helpful, but I was very happy to be there, touching all the books, getting quite side-tracked by reading the books I was supposed to be sorting, and maybe being a little bit useful or something. I felt mature.

I felt like I was being educated in a way that school could never offer.

The building was dusty, high-ceilinged, hushed except for the creaking of old wooden chairs and titanic reading tables. I can’t find any pictures of the interior, but here’s the exterior of heaven:

Image from Canada’s Historic Places

In 1980, someone made a prediction about the town: because of all the sinners and implicit sinning in the area, God was going to lose His patience and deal with the whole sinful mess. Sadly, God (or someone with a flourishing complex) chose fire to express His displeasure. Along with a good handful of other places, the library went down in 1980.

My heart broke. I think there might still be a small fissure beneath the thick scar.

Not to be thwarted, I volunteered at the school library. It was limited in both size and scope, filled with a lot of books that were, frankly, boring. The library contained books that were “appropriate” for W.A.S.P. children up to Grade 8.

I needed better than that. I needed adult books. I needed my big library.

We moved to a larger town just before my 13th birthday. The library there was much the same: old, creaky, educational and safe.

I had even fewer friends as a teenager. Didn’t need them. I had Timothy Findley and Jane Rule.

Can’t think what I’d be, or where I’d be, without public libraries. Certainly, I would be a demand on social services. Where else, pre-internet, would I have learned to be who I am? Where else would someone like me find sufficient sources of words for their sanity?

It’s always good to see public acknowledgement of our need for libraries.

If you need further proof that a good chunk of society’s money needs to go to libraries, you can also check out WMTC’s Things I Heard at the Library. (She’s a librarian, not just someone who would be a drain on society if she weren’t given enough to read.)

Holland and Jaime: List of Secrets (an excerpt)

On Saturday, October 1st, 2016, To Be Human Again will be published.  Its first public appearance will be at Culture Days at Mississauga Central Library.

Human may be suffering from a serious case of nerves that day, so it will be sitting quietly on a table… shivering, right out in the middle of the Atrium where everyone can see it….

Despite it being Human’s first day, the public reading that day will be from Holland and Jaime.  Holland and Jaime is comfortable being exposed to the world (and the very broad audience at the library will likely be more comfortable with Holland and Jaime than with Human).

You can keep track of events for both Human and Holland and Jaime here.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the Holland and Jaime stories, List of Secrets:

LIST OF SECRETS
ERIK MASTERSON

ERIK KEPT A LIST of everyone who knew about him. On the filthy, worn piece of paper was the name of each of his doctors at the psychiatric hospital. Under each of their names were those of the people they talked to about Erik. Several times a day, he would take this list from his pocket and review it, rubbing his hand nervously through his short, grey hair.

He’d kept the list through twenty of his forty-six years. Every few years, he’d get a new set of doctors and nurses, and he’d have to start the whole list over again: he despised that part. He would carefully put the old list in his locked, fire-proof box, then hand a pen and paper over to the new doctors. Sometimes, the new people wouldn’t understand: they’d write other doctors and staff nurses and consultants. If it was a good day, Erik was able to explain that he needed first and last names, as well as their relationship to the doctor. If it was a bad day, Erik would just walk out and return to his room. He would turn out the lights, draw the curtain around his bed and just wait until someone trustworthy came to get him. In the beginning, they tried to get him to back to the untrustworthy doctors; now, more often than not, they just find him a new doctor.

Only one doctor ever refused to fill out the paper. He’d promised, instead, to never breathe a word to anyone about Erik. As it turned out, he’d lied. When Erik found out, he’d put his list into his fireproof box and had refused to come out of his room for over a month.

Erik wasn’t a danger to anyone, so he was given a green passcard which allowed him to leave the building and walk around the grounds. It was an intern who had actually handed him the pass, and the intern had beamed so widely, so brightly, that Erik had screamed in fear. The intern had been shocked; he explained that he was just proud of Erik and the progress they’d made. He hoped Erik would enjoy the freedom.

Progress. Freedom. Erik had taken almost two years to painstakingly map out every window, every see-through door and every security camera in the building. The new intern didn’t seem to understand the enormity of trying to keep track of those same things out of doors. It was easy to see someone outside, peering in, but it was difficult to see someone looking out the window at you unless the light was right.

Erik didn’t use the passcard for many months.

IT WAS A VERY PLEASANT young nurse who had brought him a map of the new covered courtyard when the construction was finally finished. An overhead trellis had been installed, she said, and covered with artificial grapevines so no one could see down from the windows above. The windows that looked onto the courtyard were in the nursing station and the physiotherapy office. On the map, she had also marked the two cameras, and even where the tables and chairs were. Erik studied the map for days, inscribing the layout into his brain.

They said there was usually no one else in the courtyard between 10:45 and 11:45 because everyone was busy with programmes then. The charge nurse unlocked the courtyard door and held it open for him. He peeked out, comparing the layout to the map the young nurse had given him. He was relieved to see it was identical. Adjusting his ball cap and sunglasses, he gingerly stepped out onto the patio stones, leaning his back against the cool brick wall. Sun trickled through the plastic grape leaves, leaving patterns on the white resin tables and chairs.

“Other than the cameras,” the charge nurse said, pointing them out, “only I can see you through the window. No one is using the physio room right now.” She propped the door open with a chair and left Erik alone.

Outside. He was outside. He wasn’t sure if he was comfortable with it, but he stayed standing against the wall until the nurse called him in for lunch.
Every day, Erik waited for the nurse to unlock the door so he could venture into the courtyard and spend an hour standing with his back to the bricks. On rainy days, he wore his new hooded camouflage rain poncho and Wellingtons. He very quickly became addicted to his one hour of quiet, relative privacy and fresh air. It was an hour of thinking about different things than he thought about when he was inside – nicer things, personal things. Being alone was rather pleasant.

H and J title