Bathurst Quay marks the end of decades-old bookmobile service

Dennis Hanagan –

A meeting place at the Rogers Media parking lot in the Bathurst Quay neighbourhood where residents could regularly gather for leisurely chats has driven off into the sunset.

The weekly visits by the Toronto Public Library (TPL) bookmobile to the lakeside community have been rendered unnecessary with the opening of the Fort York library on Bathurst St. across from Fort York.

The mobile’s final visit was Aug. 29 when local resident Laurie Stevenson set out banana-zucchini cupcakes and lemonade on a card table for book lovers to enjoy as they remembered their library-on-wheel days and bade the staff goodnight for the last time.

Stevenson, who has visited the mobile library for the past 25 years, likened it to the old-time barbershop where locales would gather and catch up on each other’s news.

“I remember it as part of the community. Between 6:15 and 7:45 p.m. was really an opportunity for people to come together and sort of catch up with what’s going on. It was our meeting place,” Stevenson said.

Library staff Jorge Guevara and John Williams in the bookmobile.

Library staff Jorge Guevara and John Williams in the bookmobile.

(TPL operates two bookmobiles to provide library service in underserved areas across the city. They make 27 weekly stops, many at apartment complexes, community centres and shopping plazas.)

Stevenson remembers librarian assistant Mark Williams and his helpfulness.

“He did some really wonderful, nice things for us. He always had the courtesy to contact one of us to let us know if the bookmobile wasn’t going to be coming. He would look up special requests for us and accommodate us if we were having trouble getting in if the weather was bad,” she said.

Williams has his own fond memories of his visits to Bathurst Quay. “I’ve really enjoyed providing bookmobile service to this community and watching the children grow up,” he said.

Actually, the mobile will still be around the area—just not stopping—as it heads to the Bathurst dock and takes the car ferry to Toronto Island which it’s been servicing since 1973. “It’s one of the busiest stops and is well-loved by the community,” notes mobile library services manager Elizabeth Sutter.

The bookmobile offers a collection of approximately 2,500 items. including books, audiobooks as well as music CDs, DVDs and magazines for children and adults. They’re selected by a librarian based on what’s popular and what patrons request.

As for the state-of-the-art Fort York library, Stevenson hopes it’ll be the neighbourhood’s new barbershop. “Hopefully it will become our new meeting place for a much bigger community,” she said.

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