I am at a loss for words.
Earlier this year I lost my home away from home. Katherine had brought her instax camera and took a picture of me, standing in the familiar stacks of the building I knew would be torn down and then we heard the message. The final message. Not a five minute warning. Just a warm, oddly welcoming goodbye that ended with "the library is closed."
Katherine caught a picture of the exact instant I started to cry.
I shared my stories with a stranger that day. I wrote them down on a card and told the building what it meant to me: freedom from my parents, the suburbs, the 'authority', and the start of my downtown adventures.
I heard back from that stranger this week, and she invited me to come see the new library, which will open December 13th.
Here is what this library is: open, beautiful, stark, homey, accessible, classic, friendly, warm, modern, innovative, classic, completely different while maintaining what is important about a library, accessible, eco friendly, and truly world class. A recording studio. A theatre, An auditorium. A lecture hall. A sound production studio. A play place. A kitchen. A place with lots of privacy. A place with lots of open space. A rooftop patio. A puppet place. A place for children. A place for seniors. A place for everyone. A home away from home.
A lot of people, myself included, like getting lost in old libraries and finding all of the hidden nooks and spaces. You cannot do that in this library, and that is a good thing. Secrets mean inaccessibility. But the lack of "lost" does not mean a lack of nooks; children can play and scream and not be heard from another pod despite all of the beautiful wide open space that lets in the light. There is always a new place to wander, something new to discover, even if you can always see all of it. It's special like that.
I ran through the halls, savouring every minute in this building that was too beautiful to comprehend. I had been consistently positive but secretly a little skeptical about some of the designs but they all came together perfectly, ever floor bringing a new gasp. And I mean that I ran. I ran up and down stairs and touched all the tiny details that made this building so special. A librarian, clad in a wonderfully stereotypical smart wool sweater, caught me panting and grinned. "You look... so happy."
I kept getting sidetracked by all of the amazing books I wanted to pick up, but I reminded myself that this time, this time only, that wasn't what I was there for.
I took well over 100 pictures. None of these will do the space justice, but hopefully these will excite you just enough that we will bump into each other at the opening.
Donate now to get your own customizable book plate! I got one in honour of my grandmother and will place it in a Roald Dahl book. What a perfect Christmas gift!