Library users: "We want our votes back."
The Star is devoting some serious real estate to Fords vs. TPL. I happened to see a hard copy (at the library!) today, and was very pleased to see such a strong defence of TPL - and Margaret Atwood - on the front page of the GTA section.
Fadumo Elmi had a message for Doug Ford Tuesday night. “I gave him my vote,” she said sternly outside Northern Elms.Tomorrow's Executive Committee meeting: pack the house!
“If he closes the library, I want back my vote.”
If Ford's comments raised eyebrows at City Hall, they raised blood pressure among patrons of this supposedly disposable library.
Statistics from the Toronto Public Library show that usage is rising at the branch, with 15 per cent more checkouts in June 2011 compared to last year.
“My blood is boiling,” said Beverly Pringle, a resident of the ward since 1984.
“As you can see, (the library) is really rather important to me,” she said, using her cane to tap a teetering stack of books on tape she was picking up for two sight-impaired friends.
Pringle noted that while Ford is right that the library is hidden behind a large Shoppers Drug Mart, that doesn't mean it's underutilized.
The area draws busloads of seniors like her, she said, who use the drugstore and then go around back to borrow books.
She also noted that the neighbourhood's diversity — 60 per cent of residents are visible minorities, according to census data — makes the location particularly vital.
“It's attended by a very ethnic mix. These kids are learning to love English stories at a very, very early age,” she said.
The Somali-born Elmi and her family confirm Pringle's views.
Elmi's 18-year-old daughter, Kawsar, said “many people from my community, the Somali-Canadian community, come here. . . . I don't think they would want this library branch closed down.”
Kawsar and her siblings have been coming to Northern Elms to study every day after school for years.
“I grew up with this library,” she said, while surfing the web with her brother, Abdirahman, 13.
“There's so many other things they could cut off. A library is a place of learning.”
Kawsar also voted for Ford. “I'm not voting for him now,” she said Tuesday.
Brian Koops was laid off two years ago and had to move from an expensive apartment near the lake to public housing in this neighbourhood.
He doesn't have the Internet at home. He just finished a course to upgrade his skills, and now he uses the library's computers to look for work, among other things.
“People don't use it for whatever, they use it because they need to,” Koops said.
Rene Guerra, who works in a bank, was at the library to read books with his son.
He also voted for Ford, and wonders now if he made the wrong choice. “Too late,” he says darkly.
For Hassan Mirza, 6, leafing through a dinosaur book at the library with his mom and three-year-old sister, the answer was a lot less complicated.
“I try very hard to read,” he said.