Why am I fundraising for the Toronto Public Library?

Pretty much any time I wear my TPL shirt, I get asked if I work there. "Nope, just a big fan!"

Pretty much any time I wear my TPL shirt, I get asked if I work there. “Nope, just a big fan!”

Now that I’m all caught up on blogging run recaps from my 100 Branches Challenge (woohoo!), I wanted to take a moment to explain why I decided to fundraise for the Toronto Public Library Foundation as part of running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.


The simple answer is that I’ve always loved libraries.


There’s a party game that comes up from time to time where people share their first email address. It’s a personality test and can reveal former obsessions with 90s celebrities or boy bands. My first email address was librarycrd@aol.com.


My mom regularly took us to the library, and summers were spent adding stickers to summer reading club displays. I grew up with the Boxcar Children, the Baby-Sitters Club, and Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield at Sweet Valley High. When a new library was built close enough to my house that I could ride my bicycle to it, I felt like heaven was a place on earth.


I worked at the university library during my undergraduate years, worked in a public library for a year after undergrad, then worked in the library during graduate school. Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal – I’m good to go.


When I moved to Toronto, getting a public library card was one of the first things I did to engage with the city. Over the years, I’ve been so amazed by all of the services offered by the Toronto Public Library. I still mostly read physical books, so I use the hold system regularly. My library account gives me access to Zinio (electronic versions of current magazines) and Lynda (online courses for business and tech). There’s the Museum + Arts Pass, where library card holders can access free tickets for local museums and historic sites. The Appel Salon brings world-class public figures to Toronto for talks. Recently, I’ve learned how to use a 3D printer, which I can access at one of the Digital Innovation Hubs.


These are awesome perks for me, but the Toronto Public Library system also offers essential services in branches and through outreach programs. 70% of Torontonians use the TPL! People can get help with literacy and computer skills, prepare for the Canadian citizenship test, and access Wi-Fi. Many libraries have special language collections – from Afrikaans and Albanian to Welsh and Yiddish.


At the beginning of the year, I started volunteering with the TPL’s Leading to Reading program. Teachers recommend students in grades 1 – 6 to take part in the program, where the student works with a volunteer one-on-one for an hour a week to get a little extra practice and encouragement for reading. Working with my student has been a hugely rewarding experience. I love getting to know her and sharing our experiences related to the books we read, or just talking about what’s happening in our lives. When I compliment her on how well she’s reading, or how great it was that she was able to figure out the meaning of a tough new word, I see her light up. I love that I can help build that confidence and make reading a fun, positive experience.


A big misconception is that public libraries are fully supported by municipal taxes. The TPL depends on donors to help provide services, collections, and programs like Leading to Reading.


I have benefited from TPL services and have seen the impact of programs. When I saw the Toronto Public Library Foundation on the list for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, I knew right away that I wanted to raise awareness and funds for this vital community organization.


I hope you’ll support me in my fundraising efforts! You can make a donation here: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=3495477&langPref=en-CA

I’d also appreciate any help spreading the word!


100 Branches – Run #13 Recap

October 2, 2016 – Peak long run! Tim drove me out west to cut my commute time in half. Thanks, Tim!

I experienced all of the weather on this run. During the first bit, I was surprisingly sweaty given that it wasn’t that hot or sunny. About 15km in or so, it started to pour. I am pretty impressed with how well I took it. I wasn’t cranky – I just went with it. I figure that there’s no guarantee that STWM will be a beautiful day, so I should know what it’s like to run in heavy rain. (Also, a few years ago Steph and I did a triathlon where we got utterly soaked on the bike portion, so it wasn’t an entirely new experience.) The thing is, you get to a point where you can’t get any wetter, so you just carry on. I was wringing rainwater out of my shirt and little pony tail, making squishy noises with every step. Eventually it stopped raining, but I certainly didn’t dry out. On the bus ride home, I wore my goosebumps with pride.

Now it’s time to taper, i.e. cut back on mileage and let my body recover a bit before putting it through a marathon! I have just enough running left to cover the last 17 branches. I’m determined to visit all 100!

Rexdale, opened 1959.

Northern Elms, established 1991, opened in current location in 2005.

Weston, another Carnegie library, and maybe my favourite branch to date! I loved the stained glass windows and all of the greenery.



Richview, opened 1966.

Elmbrook Park, opened 1988.

Eatonville, opened 1964.


Oh so rainy!


High Park, a Carnegie library opened in 1916.

Library Run #13

Distance: 32 km
Branches visited: 7
Total branches visited: 83/100

100 Branches – Run #12 Recap

September 28, 2016 – An evening tempo workout, foolishly heading west. It’s also getting dark earlier… fall is here!


Cliffcrest, established 1972, and moved to current location in 2008. According to the TPL website, “it is Toronto Public Library’s first ‘browsing branch’ with open-facing shelving (similar to retail stores) to display popular books, magazines, and audio-visual materials and reading lounges to browse items.


Albert Campbell – opened 1971, and named in honour of Scarborough politician Albert McTaggart Campbell. I love the architecture of this branch.
I think I’ve talked about this before, but the problem with trails on Google Maps is that you never know what you’re going to get into. I went south on the Gus Harris Trail through Warden Woods and was met with a TON of mud. I wasn’t totally sure what was going on, but there was obviously some construction or something happening. I had gotten to the point where it didn’t make sense to turn around, so I tiptoed through it, laughing. It eventually returned to paved ground. I though this rock was cool. Not as cool as the Leaside rock, but still cool.


Dawes Road (originally Woodbine Gardens) opened in its present location in 1976.
Isn’t Main Street beautiful? Also, I received an exceptionally friendly response to my question about a water fountain. Cheers to nice staff members!

Library Run #12

Distance: 12 km
Branches visited: 4
Total branches visited: 76/100

100 Branches – Run #11 Recap

September 24, 2016 – I went from the Golden Mile out east to Scarborough for this long run. This run instilled some much-needed confidence that I’ll be able to finish the marathon. At the end, I felt like I could keep going… slowly… with lots of breaks to stretch out my achy calves and hips.


The saddest branch is a closed branch! Eglinton Square is closed for renovations until 2017. I wandered around the mall hoping to maybe catch a glimpse, but she’s totally hidden away.

Kennedy/Eglinton, opened 1988.

McGregor Park, established 1960, and opened in current location in 2004.

Bendale, opened in current location in 1961.
Check out this fun mural outside!
Cedarbrae, opened 1966.
I loved how the sun hit these colourful details.

Guildwood, opened 1974.
I popped over to say hi to Lake Ontario. Hello, gorgeous!

Morningside, opened 1968.

Passed by this little avenue, which has the most beautiful name, don’t you think?

Port Union, opened 1974.

So cozy and cheery.

Highland Creek, opened in present location in 1994.

Library Run #11

Distance: 29 km
Branches visited: 9
Total branches visited: 72/100

100 Branches – Run #10 Recap

September 22, 2016 – This was a short run before work, where I was taunted by the smell of fresh bagels for several kilometers. Sigh… sweaty and hungry.

Maria A. Shchuka, opened 1951, but renamed in 1997 inhonour of Maria A. Shchuka, Head Librarian from 1979-1996.

Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre, opened 1996.
I loved the door handles!

Dufferin/St. Clair, opened 1921. I want to go back and check out the mural inside!

Davenport, opened 1988.

Wychwood is another Carnegie library. It came from a grant in 1915 dedicated to building three branches in “far-outlying portions” of the city. It opened the following year.

Deer Park, opened 1952.

Library Run #10

Distance: 10 km
Branches visited: 6
Total branches visited: 63/100

100 Branches – Run #9 Recap

September 18, 2016 – Finally, a long run that felt mostly manageable. The first 20km were pretty good, but the end got tough. I tripped and fell, luckily only scraping up my knee, but still, it’s a bit jarring. I did have a light at the end of the tunnel though – Tim and a friend met me at Rooster Coffee at the end. She brought a delicious homemade plum cake- mmm!


Locke, opened 1949 in honour of George H. Locke, the TPL’s chief librarian from 1908-1937.


Armour Heights, opened 1982.
Barbara Frum, which was originally called Bathurst Heights, opened in 1962. It is named in honour of Barbara Frum, a broadcaster and journalist.
Forest Hill, opened 1955.

Northern District, opened 1975. Fun fact: Northern District was the first library in Metropolitan Toronto to have an automated circulation system.
Mount Pleasant, opened 1992.

Leaside, opened 1950.
Leaside has a cool rock!
And a pretty garden in the back.

Then I went to Flemingdon Park (again!) That was poor route planning on my part. Ah well! To make matters worse, I then missed my turn off to go to Thorncliffe. No swapsies… I’ll go back and visit it.
I think I was too busy enjoying being back on my familiar stretch of the Lower Don Recreation Trail. Gotta love Elevated Wetlands!

Todmorden Room, opened 1961.

Library Run #9

Distance: 25 km
Branches visited: 8
Total branches visited: 57/100

100 Branches – Run #8 Recap

September 15, 2016 – There’s a bit of a gap between library runs #7 and #8 because I went to California for a wedding, then did a practice race to gauge where I was at for the marathon. I used run #8 to literally run an errand, picking up a package (an InstantPot) at a shipping facility. I was glad to be able to add in some libraries!

S. Walter Stewart, opened in 1960. From the TPL website: “The library’s circular design was unique in Toronto, and, at the time, said to be one of only four circular libraries in the world. Named for S. Walter Stewart (1897-1969), a pioneer of library service in East York, serving on the East York Public Library Board from its establishment in 1946 until his death. He was the president of the East York Kiwanis Club when it started children’s libraries in 1944.”

Danforth/Coxwell, established 1989.

Gerrard/Ashdale, opened 1924.

Library Run #8

Distance: 10 km
Branches visited: 3
Total branches visited: 49/100

100 Branches – Run #7 Recap

August 27, 2016 – This long run took me from York down to the Junction and Bloor West Village.

Black Creek, which opened in current location in the North Sheridan Mall in 2002.

Downsview, established 1961, with an official opening in 1963.
This branch hosts a location of the Toronto Tool Library, which loans specialized tools to community members at really affordable prices. I love this partnership!

Amesbury Park, opened 1967.

Mount Dennis, opened in current location in 1951, with major work done in the 80s and 2011-2013. In 2015, it won an Ontario Library Association Building Award.

Evelyn Gregory, opened 1968.

St. Clair/Silverthorn, opened 1981.
I loved their cozy Children’s section.
Next I made a stop at Hale Coffee Company to pick up some Station Cold Brew for Mandy’s birthday. It’s a really lovely coffee shop, and it was extremely hard to not stop and just drink coffee for the rest of the afternoon.

Perth/Dupont, established in present site in 1983. This is my friend Jeff’s favourite branch in the TPL, which I totally get!

Annette Street, established in 1909 as a TPL Carnegie library. It was originally named Western, then changed to Annette in 1962.

I dropped off the cold brew at Mandy’s place and got some hugs and kisses from Mandy, her baby Knox, and her dog Sam, then headed north to the Jane/Dundas branch.

Jane/Dundas, opened in present location in 1975.

Swansea Memorial has a great history. It was formed in 1919, thanks to the Women’s Patriotic League of Swansea. They wanted to create a community centre in honour of Swansea men who served in World War I. The Swansea Memorial Public Library opened at Swansea Public School at the end of that year, then moved to its current building in 1959.

Runnymede, opened in 1930. In 1989, it appeared on a postage stamp!

I finished the run with a quick jaunt into High Park to meet my mileage for the run, which is novel for me since I live on the east side of town.

 Library Run #7

Distance: 25 km
Branches visited: 11
Total branches visited: 46/100

100 Branches – Run #6 Recap

August 20, 2016 – This was the second hot run that I bailed on. I made it a little further this time! I think this one was supposed to be 25 or 26km, but as the kids say, I literally could not even. I struggled with the decision, and called Tim for advice. “If you’re calling me and admitting that you’re thinking about it, that means you’re done. Come home.”

These branches are around the Humber River, which is really lovely. I really recommend walking or running on the trails nearby!

Humber River near the Humberwood branch.

Humber River near the Humberwood branch.

York Woods, established 1970. It has a nice big theatre space too!

Jane/Sheppard, opened in current location in 2009.
Can we talk about the Reading Sprouts Garden next to the library? So adorable.

Woodview Park – opened in 1964, and was the first branch in North York to be in a rented facility. Lots of TPL branches make use of space in shopping malls and plazas, which is quite convenient.
You know what else is convenient? Air conditioning! I took a breather by a vent.
Humber Summit, opened in 1974, and was the first branch in North York to be in a shared facility with another community agency (the North York Parks and Recreation Department).

I thought this guitar aquarium display was super cute!

Albion, opened in current location in 1973. Includes a Computer Learning Centre, and is open over 65 hours per week!

Humberwood, opened in 1996.

Library Run #6

Distance: 21 km
Branches visited: 6
Total branches visited: 35/100

100 Branches – Run #5 Recap

August 12, 2016 – This was the first of two library runs that got cut short due to the heat. It was such a hot summer in Toronto! I know that it’s nothing compared to the heat and humidity in my hometown in Virginia. (How does anyone run in the summer there?!)

I headed to North York, intending to run 21km. I ended up being very sweaty, hungry, and cranky. I can laugh about it now, but here’s how bad it was: after making it to Flemingdon Park, I decided to call it quits and I wandered to the bus stop across the street and got on the first bus that showed up. I had no idea where it was going, but I knew I would be on it. Ha!

Maryvale, opened in current location in 1987.

Brookbanks, opened 1968.

Don Mills, opened at its current location in 1961. I highly recommend reading the history of the branch – it involves everything from a red brick schoolhouse, a general store, and an abandoned military hut.

Don Mills

The grass is very hot too.

Victoria Village, established 1967.

Victoria Village

More hot grass!


Flemingdon Park, established 1981.
Flemingdon Park

Library Run #5

I made sure to leave the weather details in the screenshot. Ha!


Distance: 12.45  km
Branches visited: 5
Total branches visited: 29/100