My Favourite Librarian

The following are some anecdotes about Torontonian’s favourite librarians.  Submit yours here.

When I was a young child, I had a librarian who used to sit on a rocking chair and read to all of us children. Somehow, by looking into our eyes or our smiles or our sadness, she would select the most wonderful book. It was as though she was feeling what we were feeling and as she read, she was a child just like the rest of us. We all went on such amazing journeys together and it gave us a real sense that anything was possible.

I remember writing a small story for my librarian about a King who was very sad and could not laugh. He said he would pay anyone a lot of money if they could make him laugh. People lined up at his door day after day until late into each night and the King could not laugh. I wrote about a secret that a bird carried and I described how the bird communicated the secret to the King who received it and began laughing with great joy. He would not stop laughing for endless days and nights.

My librarian laughed when she read my story and said it was clever and that I had a gift for telling stories. This changed my life because I felt she was the Queen of storytelling and she made me feel like a Queen and that there were no limits to my dreams.

This warmth and wisdom that librarians share is sacred and its roots allow for discovering the world and what is in our hearts as ONE. I send every librarian a full heart of love and gratitude. You have my respect and I keep hope alive for you, for me, for everyone.

Maria

My story is really not about one librarian. I don’t live in Toronto right now,though I used to and I hope to once again. However, where ever I am I depend on librarians. I’ve been coached on how to use the internet. I’ve learned how to ask for interlibrary loans. Most of all, I’ve learned to trust librarians. They love to be helpful, they love to impart information and they love people who love books. And because of that, I attitude I’ve learned to love librarians!

Wendy Hunt

Karen, my favourite librarian, is a true professional. She combines her understanding of library programs and systems as well as her knowledge of books, music and video with her warm, helpful and courteous personality. I’ve known Karen for seven years and when I’m doing research I count on Karen for her interest in my topics and her ability to steer me in the right direction to accomplish my goals. I’m always grateful for her assistance. One of the fundamental requirements that a librarian should have is a sense of humour – Karen has it in spades! What would we do without librarians like Karen and the wonderful Northern District Library?

D. Silvera

I don’t have a favourite librarian in particular; however they have all been been so important in providing a welcoming environment to all of us in my family that keeps all coming back. Our librarians have encouraged the love of reading within our family, and I’m grateful for that. I am an immigrant to Canada and where I come from libraries were a luxury; growing up I never had access to this magnificent opportunity and so when I had my own children in Canada, I raised them surrounded by books and reading. And I’d like other families to have the same opportunity I had.

Rosario

My favourite librarian, just now, is Betty at Home Library Service West. I have recently become a user of the Home Library Service. After a conversation with Betty about my likes and dislikes, a monthly supply of books and DVDs began to arrive. Somehow she managed to crawl inside my head. Things just seem to suit my taste. Sometimes there are DVDs which I might not have chosen but once viewed, they become favourites. Betty is a marvel! I can’t wait for my monthly bag of goodies to arrive. Better than Santa Claus and a little more frequent.

Karen Riehm

When I was in grade seven and eight at Deer Park Public School I would go to the Deer Park public library every week and take out books to read. I still remember the patience and interest the Librarian showed me as I made my way through most of the young adult fiction in the section of that library. Half way through grade eight I remember that I had read pretty much all the books in that section that interested me. The Librarian always had suggestions of new books I might be interested in because she knew I loved books that had a mythical element or stories that included historical fiction and novels about Innuit and Aboriginal life.

Sarah Hunter

I was 11 or 12, and I wanted to read ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This book was not part of the circulating collection at the time, and the only copy I could find was among the old and rare books in the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections at the Boys & Girls House, then on St. George St. (now at 239 College St.).

My mother occasionally gave me permission to visit the library instead of going to my detested school, so I, complete with a note from my mother, rode bus and subway and streetcar to get there. Our family had often visited the children’s Saturday morning story times, so I knew the library, but had never been allowed back into the Special Collections, which was where my prey was housed.

I asked for the book and was politely shown to a chair at a table in the area for visiting scholars (which I suppose I was, in my own fashion). I was told to leave all pens or pencils in my bag, and I’m sure the librarian surreptitiously checked my hands for grubbiness. A librarian brought the book to me personally — special delivery! — it felt very grown-up. I began to read. There were adult scholars in the library, and I was at first vaguely conscious of the librarians coming into the room periodically to check that all was well, but that awareness completely dissipated as I lost myself in the book.

If you haven’t read ‘Lord Fauntleroy’, you must understand that it’s a world-class tear-jerker, and at that age I far from immune. The pretence that I was any kind of scholar dropped away, and I wept (careful of the book) at young Cedric’s trials, his grandfather’s growing love for the boy, the evil impostor, and the final reunion of mother and son.

Judith, the formidable (and, I thought at the time, rather frightening) head of the children’s Special Collections, bless her heart, let me read undisturbed until the book was done, hours later. I was always grateful for her generosity, permitting a scrawny kid to lay her hands on an aged book and just read in peace, and later saving the kid’s dignity by pretending not to notice her tear-stained face.

In fact, all the children’s librarians I have ever dealt with have been wonderful, at the Bathurst St. branch, St. Clements, and especially the Locke Library (where the children’s librarian let me borrow adult books once I’d devoured everything interesting in the kids’ section). And the staff at the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith collections has always been stellar: including Judith of course, as well as Margaret, Jill, Dana, and the current head, Leslie.

Robin Sundstrom

I am a disabled Elder citizen. I use the New Toronto Branch of the Library extensively, and I have found ALL the Staff exceptionally helpful. I would really suffer with any proposed staff reduction.

George Harris

At Cedarbrae we have the honour of having Russell. He chairs our book club, always reads the book, does his homework, knows us all as friends, always has tea, coffee and water and a treat. Asks our opinion about events that take place at the library. He’s always has time for people. I seem to use the word always a lot but it applies to Russell. He is a good example of a librarian.

Mary Ann

The novel, Mighty Oaks, about the famous Canadian poet Gwendolyn MawEwen at a time when she was our school librarian, is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Mighty-Oaks-Lorne-S-Jones/dp/tags-on-product/145054004X

Lorne

I love Pam, head of the Annette Branch. She is fiercely committed to our library being an inviting and accessible place for all Toronto’s citizens. From creative performers who connected with our littlest ones and invited them into the wonderful world of books (puppet shows, Chris McKhool) to reading mentors and tea & books groups, Pam is innovative and tireless in raising literacy standards and cultivating the love of reading.

Linda Ruth Ciglen

I would like to thank Patricia and Gayle at Ashdale/Gerrard Library for the personal and community care that is apparent to all who frequent the library. I have enjoyed being part of the Tuesday oral language group with Pat Smith. This group is currently knitting or crocheting for a Toronto hospice while improving their oral communication skills… an initiative of their choice… a giving back as it were. It is fitting that this is taking place in Gerrard/ Ashdale as it is a community of giving and sharing and caring that is present in both Gayle and Patricia.

Elizabeth Nikitin

I wish I knew their names but the librarians on the 5th floor of the central library on Yonge, north of Bloor have given me amazing assistance in finding obscure musical scores. They have a passion for this work and have saved me hours in searches. Hooray for them!

John Roby

I don’t know his name but we met briefly last week. I needed to find the Landlord/Tenant Board in order to file an application for a hearing. I was taking my landlord to court. And I could not find the right place to do this. The address I remembered was St. Clair Ave. E. Forget the number! After pounding the pavement for about half an hour I spotted the Deer Park Library. I said to myself “Librarians know everything”. Well it turned out that the man at the reference desk did seem to know most of everything. I just started to explain my plight when he chirped in, “you want to go across the street. Let me see now. I know it’s there somewhere”. He found the address as 79 (I had put down 19) and sent me on my way. Now I have a court day set and I’m thinking I should ask him for more advice about landlord obligations..Need to get the language of the contract right. I’ll try the web but, if not enough there for me I’ll be in some library or other seeking “professional help.” You gotta love them.

Diane Gordon

I wish I knew her name. She is at the Lillian Smith library and I was looking for some books to help the 4 and 5 year olds I work with in day care, to understand more about the Underground Railroad and other events to celebrate Black History month. She went out of her way to find me appropriate books and turned me on to authors and stories I did not know. The kids have loved the books and talk about what they’ve learned all the time. Even their parents have noticed their interest. Thank you. If we didn’t have librarians like this wonderful woman, what would we do?

Estelle Amaron

RoseMarie, who heads the Palmerston Branch, is a treasure. She has helped me find many books over the years and was particularly helpful, in her quiet way, when I headed a committee to erect a historic plaque in our neighbourhood, allowing us to hold related events in the library, and making a display in the glass case outside related to our marker.

Judy Stoffman

I will always support the Toronto Public libraries. When I was growing up in FRANCE I had to carry my passport to the library/bibliotheque because I was not born in France. Here the Public Libraries treats everyone as guests and are part of the community. What Ford is doing is destroying the moral fibre of our community. What are you doing to show your appreciation in being a Canadian?

Krystyna Bacik

Her name is Katie. She works at The Barbara Frumm Library. I was unable to find an obscure title. I did not have the name right and I did not know the author’s name. Katie patiently showed me how to perform searches on the computer and helped me find the book in another library.

Michak Hasek

Othilie is a young woman that began working part-time in a local library in West Hill Toronto because it was a much needed job and she was an avid bibliophile after being captivated with storybook imaginings by the Harry Potter series and then with mystery stories. Time passed and she would talk about her fictional discoveries as well as about the work of dusting, sorting and replacing books in their shelves then the fun of working at the frontdesk, servicing customers and advising them. Now a full time-part-time assistant she obviously loves her duties and the people with whom she works and, the clients and staff appreciate her.

A librarian is an important member of her community, assisting members enrich their lives in a much needed retreat from the drudgery and pressures of life: providing emotional as well as intellectual nourishment. All desirable vectors of mental hygiene.

Dr James Alan Long

Doug was the junior high and senior high librarian when I was a student in Vernon, BC in the fifties and early sixties! He involved many of us in mending books, preparing new ones to be added to the library, shelving and running the front desk. We spent hours in the library and were privileged to have the first choice of new books! He told us stories from his time in war torn Italy as a Canadian soldier and engaged us in literary discussion as if we were adults. “The Catcher in the Rye” was a banned book at the time and for some reason, I obtained a copy and devoured it. I had a long discussion with Doug about it and no doubt he was relieved that I did not understand the “sex” scenes! I became an English teacher and loved teaching JD Salinger’s novel to thousands of students. Every time, I opened the cover, I had a frisson up my spine and thought of Doug as I launched into my introduction which included the fact that the novel had been banned when I was their age. I also warned them not to turn to page 222 to see the bad words which helped the book be deemed as a “dirty book”! Hurrah for libraries, and for the wonderful librarians who work so hard to help all of us find the books etc. which illuminate our lives!

Phyllis Webster

My favourite librarian is Marie. She’s the branch head of my local library, Kennedy Eglinton, and every time I see her she remembers me and asks about my husband. She’s always engaged in conversations with the patrons and knows a great number of them by name. Marie has also encouraged my blogging efforts. (I write a blog about visiting all 98 branches of the TPL system, c-raine.com). She even invited me to speak about the blog last year.

Catherine Raine

A few weeks ago I wanted to find a book for a student I had that I was teaching art to and she wanted images of cats and particularly a story set in Japan. I had read a book a long time ago that had just such a setting but couldn’t remember the name. I went to the Lillian Smith Library to ask if they could search for it. One of children’s librarians took on the task of looking for it for me and kept calling me at home to let me know how the search was going…..i was so impressed with her determination and diligence to try and find this book…..that is what I love about our library system and our librarians!!

Sarah Hunter

All the people working at the Fairview branch are wonderful.To think of letting any of them go would be tragic.These people work hard at helping this community.(which is more than I can say for the Mayors’ office.)

George Kozub

The first librarian I ever met drove a massive white bookmobile he named Parnassus, for the seat of poetry and learning, a moveable feast in fact. The librarian’s name was Howard and I was a rural elementary student from the two-room Transpine School in Cecil Lake in the North Peace district.

I loved books as much as horses and there were never enough books in my small world. At least my parents had a three shelf bookcase but most of the hardcovers were deemed ‘too adult’ for a nine year old. I started reading the biography of Marie Antoinette when I was in Grade 3 and therein discovered the word ‘puce’ which our dictionary described as ‘flea-coloured’. Puce was all the rage for a season of ladies’ dresses in her court. I marvelled and wanted to see a flea but never could find one. I read all our books eventually, surreptitiously tucking the salty Thomas B. Costain or lusty Frank Yerby novel from the high seas or deep South back onto its shelf exactly as I found it.

Librarians know all about censorship and about nourishing curious minds as well. Librarians, like most sensible people, know that censorship begins at home and that’s where it should stay. By the time Howard drove the icy, snow-packed or soggy gumbo and gravel roads of the Peace to our school, three months or more had elapsed since the thrill of his last visit. I had read the current stash of books at least twice over and in desperation, resorted to the school dictionary. Our little school did not even have a set of encyclopaedias, which I would have preferred to the dictionary. I stared at the wall map for ages, willing the world to come to life for me somehow. The teachers, and we had mostly very good teachers for some reason and I am grateful to this day for those adventurous young women and men who came to our isolated school, contrived to make entering the bookmobile a reward for work finished or good behaviour and the like. Happily for me, I was often one of the first onboard, all of us admitted in small groups so as not to overwhelm Howard with our requests.

Horse books. I wanted The Black Stallion and The Red Stallion and/or any stallions worthy of a literary life at the hands of Walter Farley. I had My Friend Flicka and Thunderhead at home, read and reread. I remember Howard gently steering me toward the Swallows & Amazons series, which I disdained, disappointing him with my provincial narrowness, I’m sure. I made up for it several decades later by selling scads of them in our bookstore and hooking our son on the entire series. But I had to have horses in my books for a few years of my young life. Nikki Tate’s Stablemates series did not exist then, alas, likely because Nikki herself was pre-literate and in diapers at the time. www.nikkitate.com if you or a dear one suffers literary horse deprivation.

The memory of those floor to ceiling shelves of books in the bookmobile, the dusty bookish smell of them all, the quiet delight Howard took in helping each student find a book about firemen or flowers or fiddles lingers still. We didn’t have television or computer at home in 1962. We didn’t have electricity, for starters. Many homes did not house a single book let alone a small wooden bookcase filled with three whole shelves of them. Books were the most amazing, otherworldly things imaginable in some of our young lives.

Later I would come to realize how many librarians were the last bastions of civilization, hiding banned copies under their desks from the philistines bent on burning them, keeping a kind eye out for children who just needed a warm, dry place to read and feel safe away from chaotic homes for a few hours, and tolerating homeless folk who also needed a warm, dry place to research Einstein or Tesla or just to nap. Thanks to public libraries, I’ve been able to write my own stories in quiet corners behind the foreign language shelves, my laptop plugged in to a handy source of electricity there. Thanks to librarians, I’ve been welcomed to read to children and adults all over B.C. and the Yukon, paid an honorarium for doing so, in recognition that what I do as a writer is real work. Living on an isolated lightstation off the B.C. coast, I now rely on the excellent service of the Vancouver Island Regional Library to bring us books and DVDs in their heavy green linen bags, the sight of which perks us all up. Books!

New books! I was overjoyed to find a certain book on the shelf of a B.C. Ferries bookstore several years ago. I bought it on the spot and immediately began reading Book Guy: A Librarian in the Peace by Howard. It is a gem: a history of libraries in B.C, wonderful on-the-ground geography as Parnassus the White Bookmobile and her predecessors tackled the Alaska Highway and its byways, a book with deftly applied dry humour, all masterfully rolled into one delightful memoir by a pioneering librarian.

It gave me a thrill, much like the giddy feeling of opening the bookmobile door first to select three new books, to dedicate my reading in the Salmon Arm Library last year to Howard, now over ninety years old, and in attendance. I publicly confessed that I was one of the “horse book kids” he’d tried so hard to widen the horizons of back in the early 60’s in a two-room Peace River school.

Thank you, Howard for your wonderful book and all the decades of work you gave the public as a librarian all over this province. You are forever at the wheel of Parnassus bringing us treasures in book form, one of the stalwart and civilized librarians in this country.

Caroline Woodward

Since moving to this area almost five years ago, I have been an enthusiastic patron of my local library. I came to know “Marnie,” one of my local librarians, through our mutual love of crime novels. We share information about books we have enjoyed, and I always love to hear her reaction to books I’ve recommended. One day, she asked, “Have you heard of this book?” She showed me the first book in the Stieg Larsson series. It was the copy she had placed on hold for herself–and she let me take it. How selfless is that!

Sheila Fletcher

My very favourite librarian is Colleen of Northern Elms Library (the one Doug Ford wanted to close!). Colleen understands what type of author I like & frequently recommends books that I otherwise would not have seen. And she is always spot on! I most often like her selections for me. In addition, Colleen scours the audio book files for a 94 year old visually impaired library member that I run errands for and of course, Colleen knows her taste as well & my friend therefore has the resulting pleasure of listening to books she herself would have selected. And all of this educated help comes with friendly, always pleasant, customer service. Colleen is awesome!

Beverly Pringle

Hats off to Marion, children’s librarian at Pape Danforth. A font of knowledge about books, Marion is a very creative person who excels in thinking outside the box when it comes to stimulating a child’s desire to read and learn. And making it happen on an ever-decreasing budget/resources. She’s also a wonderful child & adult storyteller “extraordinaire” and a puppet maker and puppeteer. So many of her patrons come back for visits or are starting to bring their kids to “Marion the Librarian”. I hate to think of children’s book budget and staffing cut back so there are no more children’s librarians and only mass market books for them to read. The American cookie cutter approach to libraries is NOT for Toronto.

Frances MacCusworth

My favourite librarian is Dulce, who has started wonderful programs for adults at the Mount Pleasant branch. There’s something for all ages every single week: presentations on the library system’s excellent collections, different book clubs for people with lots of different literary tastes, play readings, author talks, and my favourite: adult story time. Officially it’s a reading of a short story. Being read to brings the participants an unexpected joy. And when it’s Dulce doing the reading, she’s a terrific “ham”. Thank you, Dulce, for bringing so many great books and stories into my life.

PK

My favourite librarian was my school librarian in Elementary school. My fondest memories were his story time with ‘Spot’ books or ‘Franklin’. My favourite was always Danny and the Dinosaurs. He engaged us all in the story and encouraged literacy. As a late bloomer, he helped me develop my reading skills and kept suggesting books that would help engage my interest at a level I was comfortable reading. He was the one who started it all off for me. He encouraged us all to follow our passions and realized we worked our hardest when it was over something we loved to do. He was the one to encourage me to follow my dream of becoming a librarian like him. It was because of him I choose to become trained as a Librarian and obtain my masters in Library and Information Science. As a recent graduate from the MLIS program at the University of Western Ontario, I tried to break into the Library industry. Finding no luck, I’ve been forced to move to Toronto to live with family. Now, in attempts once again to break into the industry that I love and am trained in, I find an even greater obstacle is baring my path. As a recent graduate, it is already extremely hard to get into any industry, and particularly hard in one that is at such a high risk as Librarianship. I can’t think of another individual to have this much impact on my life as my elementary school librarian. It doesn’t hurt that he reminded me of Rupert Giles.

Michael

My favourite librarian goes back to my early days in Canada. She worked in the Sarnia Public Library. It was an old Carnagie library. I used to love to go down the stairs to the children’s room. I was 4. I remember a fireplace and books and Miss Sadie Knowles, a diminutive woman who was so kind to ‘her’ children. She did a lot for her community, including starting a collection of the group of seven which was the foundation for the Sarnia Art Gallery. But, she always made me feel at home in Canada.

Elaine Stewart

My favourite librarians are Sam and Iris at the Queen-Saulter branch. They are lovely – always a friendly greeting for everyone, encouraging and kind with kids and seniors. They try to remember the names of patrons. Sam has a story-time for kids every other week. They bring a true sense of community to our neighbourhood. To me, they represent the best the City has to offer.

Yishey Choden

My favourite librarian was the children’s librarian at St. Clements Library when I was a child. She helped me find great books to read and steered me towards more challenging ones. My parents could go to her when I was ill, and she would select books for me that she knew I had not read. I was very proud youngster when she allowed me to choose books from the adult section. Since I have encounter many helpful, friendly librarians. The library is always a delightful place to go.

Mary McColl

Dani, librarian, and Greg, manager, at the North York branch of TPL are both fantastically organized, wonderfully well-read, and go out of their way to promote Canadian and local authors. I had the opportunity to work with them closely as their writer-in-residence in 2011, and was so impressed with their professionalism and public service that I have been moved to write this. Also at the North York branch is the fantastic children’s librarian, Kathleen, someone so dedicated to promoting literacy and supporting families, that she attends community based events in Toronto on her days off! Yeah for librarians and library staff! Bravo TPL!

Elizabeth Ruth

I grew up to a mother with a reading disability, whose husband died unexpectedly and we now lived in TCHC. The Humber Summit library branch was a distance from our home and with three kids it was difficult to get there. We were lucky though because of the bookmobile. It would come once a month to our parking lot and they would set up a show and craft for the children the neighbourhood. It was there that I got my passion for reading , and Canadian History. The staff changed every year but they all had the same professionalism and love of reading and helping children that we would always have around 30 kids sitting up on knoll on Finch Ave West listening to the stories, doing the crafts and checking out our books. For a child who saw no way out, the librarians told me that my dream of being a lawyer wasn’t unrealistic and help me to get moving on the right track.

Ruby Hurlbut

I do not have a favourite, or they are all favourites. Fond memories of helpfulness of l’s in my youth. These days, I borrow in Toronto, Halifax, and Port Carling (occasionally). All librarians friendly, helpful, knowledgeable. Grandchildren love the library and we all find both computers and the books helpful. I hope Toronto will maintain its excellent library system, just as the other regions are.

Randal Johnston

The library staff at Sunnybrook Veterans Care Center are extremely kind, patient and helpful toward their clients, many of whom have disabilities. Their care and assistance are very much appreciated by all.

Ursula Rattey

The manager of our local public library, the Alderwood Branch has been such an integral part of our children’s library experiences from the time they were babies where she hosted the popular Baby and Me library program, to their public school experience, going to the library once a week. She is a nurturing soul who has instilled a love of reading in our children. She has made our library a warm, welcoming and safe place for all.

Tina Chan-Kim

My favourite librarian was an incredible woman, an animal activist, a dedicated ESL teacher, a world traveler, one of the most incredible women I’ve ever known…the late Lynne. She traveled the world, teaching English, sharing her knowledge and learning from others. She epitomized the best in what a librarian should be: informed, caring, a peacemaker, with the most engaging sense of humour ever. She could literally charm the birds out of the trees or make peace between two highly antagonistic opposing forces. I miss her terribly…and the secondary library she left behind when she retired…never recovered. She was followed by two untrained & disinterested library “custodians” – they were not librarians.

Shanie Mangulins

My kids did not like reading or even going to the library. With some convincing from myself and their friends they discovered the wonderful programs conducted by Sophia at Steeles Library on Bamburgh Circle. She not only made learning fun and exciting, but I found them begging to go to the library as a reward and wanting to read books to tell her about. We love ALL her programs and are so excited for March Break and the family storytime to begin again as well as the summer!

Soniya

When I got my job at Dufferin/St. Clair, we had a librarian named Nancy. She was very nice. She loved to do puppet shows for the kids. Her favourite one was Whistle for Willie. She was a one man show, and boy was she very good at it. Most of the puppets we had at the branch were hand made by Renata Stainton. As years went by, I learned to do puppet shows for the kids along with other coworkers. I can say that, that is the most fun I’ve had to this day. Kids don’t see you behind the curtain and yet you can act as silly as you want and they will love it. Nancy inspired me, thank you, Nancy.

Carmelina Romano

Librarian Suzie works at the Barbara Frum Library. She always greeted our kids by their names, because not only was she our local library librarian but she used to be our neighbour too. She always had a smile and a warm hello for us!

Annie Kammer

I have many favourite librarians at my local branch (North York Central): Ellen and Jane who facilitate our book club meetings with great skill and finesse; Vivica and Nancy for their film club presentations and insightful discussions afterwards; Kelly for her knowledge and patience in e-book training; and various others working quietly behind the scenes to bring about new and exciting changes to events at the library. Thank you for this opportunity to let them know how much they are appreciated!

Judy Trites

I love ALL the librarians at the Beaches Library!

Gary Pask

I love Toronto Public Libraries and the librarians. I love talking to them about great books and literature. I loved talking to them about children’s books when I was a parent of young children. Librarians are a valuable asset to our city.

Val Greenfield

I have never dealt with a librarian that was not pleasant, helpful and civic minded. They have always found me whatever books I need. I can’t pick a librarian I prefer because I like all of them!

Maria Muszynska

One of my favourite library ladies once told me that for librarians life was just a bowl of queries,… She enjoyed every aspect of her job immensely and I cannot imagine her being happy with any changes that would involve her not being able to provide the maximum amount of service and care she currently provides. No one should be forced to accept any situation that diminishes their desire or ability to both enjoy or profit from their work.

Rob La Pier

As a child, I never really paid attention to books. I would rather play outside, watch T.V or just vegetate. I was given books to read, but I would just put them aside. Books never captured my attention. It wasn’t until a fateful school trip in 1984 to the Bloor and Gladstone Library that my whole world changed and I owe it all to a Librarian. I can’t remember what the Librarian’s name was or even how she looked, but what I can remember is how this one person made a book come to life. My class and I were gathered in the Bloor and Gladstone program room. The Librarian started to read: “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. I can’t explain how or why, but there was just something about that book that spoke to me. Perhaps it was the way the Librarian read the story or perhaps it was the Monsters in the book. There was just something about that book that made me want to hear the story again and again and again. It’s been twenty-eight years since that class trip and I’m still in awe of the power of the written word. That one visit to the library changed my perspective about books and I’ve never looked back. I’m a book lover for life! Ms. Librarian circa 1984 from the Bloor and Gladstone Library, thank you. :)

Richard De Melo

My favourite librarian would be Barrie. He is always nice and friendly. Whenever I go into work he always greets me with a smile. He is a very patient and laid back branch head. One day a patron was slowing me down while I was doing my work by talking to me too much. This patron was acting pretty goofy at the time. The Security Guard went and told Barrie that a patron was bothering the page. Barrie came to the patron and asked if he needed help with anything. The way that Barrie dealt with him was really well. He was very patient with the patron. He did not get annoyed at all. Barrie is like that with all of the customers and staff at the library.

John Pyette

Rosemary and Nicki and Michaela are constantly helping my family with books, ebooks, and adult and kid projects at the Palmerston Library. Sometimes our family has 50 books out at a time. And even when we work abroad we feel so privileged to have internet access to what we feel is the best library in the world. Why make it mediocre and useless? Already it is not open half the mornings when I need it. If you want a successful country you want educated people who make wise decisions. For that you need good libraries and educated people. (Or are some politicians afraid the people will get too smart for them?) Save our libraries. Intelligent people need them.

Susan Stewart

I like Kim of the Merril Collection because she answered all the questions I had about how the special collection books are protected from degradation and any other questions I had. She left me with a positive impression because I never before realized that the librarians know more about books than any random person who volunteers or works for minimum wage to sort books.

Kerianne Kerr

My favourite librarian was James (who later starred in Street Cents and wrote reviews for the CBC.) He worked at the children’s desk of my local library when I was in elementary school. He helped me with research projects and even kept a library card on file for me because I constantly lost or forgot my own. I was a latch-key kid so I visited the library almost every day after school, and hanging out with my favourite librarian was part of the draw. It kept me reading and out of trouble!

Liz

My favourite librarian is the slightly crotchety, but ever helpful old fellow who works out of the Riverdale Public Library, at the corner of Gerrard and Broadview. He is unfailingly polite and resourceful and has the manner of somehow who has had to suffer fools, which he does with his own style of grace.

Brendan Cahill

I use the Hillcrest Library on Finch near Cummer in North York. All the staff there have been helpful and a the atmosphere is friendly.

Anita Feldman

Forgive me, it’s late, and memory banks are resting. However, I want to applaud the wonderful woman at Tor. Ref. Library who is, I believe, in charge of the Theatre Arts/Music department. She sings, so she fully understands my quandaries and quests for unique material for my one woman shows. But kids, absolutely EVERYONE in that department is MARVELLOUS, so INCREDIBLY SUPPORTIVE and helpful. I LOVE the Reference Library, it is my main source of exploration. I do apologize for being a dullard re the names of all those wonderful librarians in the theatre/music section. When my memory banks awaken, I trust I can then send you a further post to properly acknowledge these fine human beings who provide such devoted and cheerful service to all of us in this city.

P. H. Hyatt

This is a general story about librarians I love. Many years ago, long before the internet was invented, I was working as a small-town reporter. When I had a question I needed answers to I called a librarian. I was always amazed at their enthusiasm and patience. They invariably went an extra mile for me, and I have appreciated their help many times over the years. There is no substitute for librarians; they are knowledgeable and helpful and a breed apart. They love sharing information and knowledge, and we need them and love them. In this world, there is no one like a librarian.

Carol Fox

I used to teach at a small public school. We had a limited amount of money to buy new books for our students. Rather than do without, I would make weekly visits to the Lillian Smith Library to fill my classroom bookshelves with picture books. I would talk with Joanne Schwartz, a children’s librarian, about specific classroom themes as well as the personal interests of my students. Joanne selected incredible books which were enjoyed by my students and I dig deeply into our learning. Joanne’s expertise in children’s books and her vast knowledge of the library’s collection helped me be a better teacher. Over the years at my old school, I must have brought in over 1000 books from the Lillian Smith collection. My former students and I thank Joanne Schwartz for her professional skills and personal kindness.

Rebecca Dalfen

While I don’t have a favourite librarian by name, I do have a favourite library. My son’s first excursion independently was to our local library in the Beaches area of Toronto. Why is this significant? Because my son has autism, he was 19 years old at the time, and going to our local library was the place he felt most safe on his first independent walk in our community. He continues to visit the library on a weekly basis and has learned to independently sign out books and CD’s with his own library card. Our local library is not a business. It is an integral part of our community. It was a safe and supportive place for me to take my children when they were young and continues to be a place where a lonely young man feels safe to be himself . If he should need help, he knows that any staff member would be kind and supportive. Mayor Ford, you under estimate the value and importance of our libraries. They are places where communities gather. Your approach to merely save money is short sighted and detrimentally impactful on individuals who are vulnerable.

Lee Steel

There are so many fabulous Toronto librarians that it seems like a shame to single one out, but I have to admit that I have one: my very favourite librarian is Jean, branch head at S. Walter Stewart Library. I am the author of ten non-fiction books and Jean’s name appears in the acknowledgments of almost every one of them. Her help with research has been invaluable. To say she has an encyclopedic (pardon the pun!) knowledge of reference material is no exaggeration. She is an amazing resource and this Canadian author salutes her and all of the her fellow staff members at the outstanding branch she heads!

Teri Degler

Our favourite librarian, Linda will be retiring next month. We all have enjoyed her commitment to the library and to the neighbourhood. Her Black History involvement over the years have been outstanding, using young talented blacks from the neighbourhood to entertain. As well, we’ve enjoyed several years in a monthly bookclub with her, she goes to a lot of trouble to find the right books and always has related books and researched info on it – and always brings food appropriate to the book – what’s not to like! We shall miss her very much and wish her all the best in what ever her future holds.

Shelley Dolan

Many librarians, not just one – For example, those at the check-out counter in Deer Park library who discuss books with me when I return them or take them out. We share mini-reviews on the spot and recommend other books on similar themes.

Kate Chung

In the last year , I have had to visit The Toronto Reference Library to do research for courses I am taking to complete my qualifications to be a teacher of English as a Second Language to adults. I am really impressed with help I have received from all the staff librarians at this Reference Library. I have been able to present well researched papers for these academic assignments because of the help of these librarians. Please keep the library staffed by these highly staffed people. We need them.

Jean

Victor at the Sanderson Library is great. He tries to remember all the kids names and their interests. He makes the library seem homey and comfortable. Victor makes each visit memorable.

Miwa Yamada

Jeanne, of the Toronto Public Reference Library, is a true goddess of the stacks who turns the library experience into a true journey of exploration, learning and sensorial enlightenment.

Nate Hendley

I can only speak to the contribution the Toronto Public Library and its librarians made to me growing up in Hoggs Hollow. The librarians fostered my burgeoning interest in music by have a lending service for musical scores. Many compositions were magnificently conducted in the privacy of my bedroom when I was a very young teenager! My subsequent career in music is due in large measure to this timely support by the Library. I have treasured this formative time afforded me by the Toronto Public Library ever since those halcyon days of the early 1950’s. Best wishes and thanks to the librarians of the Toronto Public Library.

Christopher Allworth

When I was a new Mom, there was a sing-song programme at Riverdale Library for new Moms. It was a reason to get organized and out of the house, when my daughter was very small.(one could get consumed with feeding and naps and diapers and supper but one needs outside stimulation, as simple as it may be) My friend and I pushed our strollers thought deep snow to get there, we did it every week. It kept us sane. Bless the lovely woman who did the program and heaven forbid that the ‘sweaty guy’ takes it all away, ’cause we know he has no idea what he is doing and has likely never been to a library to READ. Thank you to libraries everywhere, ’cause I now appreciate my rural library. Just today my daughter asked for a library card of her own.

Ann Hagedorn

Anna at the Deer Park branch is the facilitator for special programs and lectures. I very much enjoyed the talk from Terry Fallis about his novels when Josh Matlow sat in to hear him for a while. If there is any politician that bears any resemblance to “Angus” Josh is one of them. Maybe not in physical appearance but in common sense. We all enjoyed the irony of his appearance. Thanks for everything and I am all for you!

John Warren

I have been using Toronto libraries since I was a child….The S. Walter Stewart branch was the library that raised me and contributed to my love of books and literature….I am now a father of four, most recently a newborn son. He and I are often visitors of the queen st. east Beaches branch, and though he is only four months old, he loves the bright lights and books that I read to him by the playhouse….. Often times, I quietly feed him and the library staff are always quiet and courteous as I perform this task….As well, once he sleeps, I carry him upstairs to read the paper, use the web, or wander through the aisles in search of a good book to take home….The librarians have been there for as long as I’ve been there and are always cheerful, helpful and knowledgeable…Something which always seems to be missing when public services are put into the hands of private enterprise…..Thanks T.O. Librarians!!

Chris Chapman

I would just like to say how much I and my kids love Theo from the Lillian Smith branch. She runs the Baby program there and both my kids attended. She is superb – people flock from all over downtown just to attend her specific program.

Gina Buonaguro

I have two favourite librarian’s both from the same Saulter Street/Queen Street East Library. Sam and Iris. These ladies went from being woman behind the counter to being what I consider, my friends. Unlike most people, I visit the library everyday. I live right around the corner and I’m unemployed and have a mental illness that keeps me from holding a job. Day to day life can be hard, and having a familiar face smile at you, ask you by your first name how you are, makes all the difference in the world to me. I love these ladies! They will go out of their way to make you comfortable.

Sam is calm and assertive, asking trouble making kids to settle down. She has spent time with me, assisting me with ordering new books and finding one’s lost in the system. No matter how crazy busy the library is, she always has a patient, calming voice. Iris is more of a quiet, smiling face. She always asks how I’m doing and say’s it’s nice to see me. I’ve seen her get a glass of water for an elderly person and I know she genuinely cares about her library visitors. These are my favourite librarian’s.

I look forward to seeing both Sam and Iris each time I go to the library and it troubles me to think that mayor Ford wants to privatize. There is no other place like my Toronto Library.

Jennifer Cooper

My favourite librarian is a librarian at Darcel Senior Public School in the 1990s. She introduced me to Anne of Green Gables and the wonderful world of Lucy Maud Montgomery, something for which I will always be grateful. Mrs. North provided that kind and understanding space every child needs. She also ran a program for students to volunteer in the library – a valuable respite for introverts such as myself. I always remember Mrs. North as a kind, loving, understanding lady and a true friend. My middle school experience would not have been the same without her!

Although she stands out in my memory as my favourite librarian, I’ve been fortunate to have other positive and valuable interactions with librarians as well. When I first arrived in Canada, the children’s librarian at my community library took the time to take me through the aisles and introduce me to the delightful books “Beezus and Ramona” by Beverly Cleary and “Dorrie and the Pin Witch” by Patricia Coombs. These opened up a whole new world for me. In my high school years, I did part-time work at the library and the staff’s kind, gracious and understanding attitude made it a pleasant introduction to the world of work. At the local Toronto public branch I visit nowadays, I see the staff make the library what it is. They are kind and welcoming to the young children who visit, patient with patrons who are not as fluent in English, gracious to even the ruder patrons and always helpful, friendly and fair. I am often impressed with the bravery they display for they must deal with all patrons; there is no security guard at the door and anyone can come in (which is the definition of a library). I have seen the staff deal capably with strange and sometime scary visitors! Bravo to them – a library is more than a place where books are stored! Librarians are the heart and soul of a library.

Saranya Murthy

My favourite librarian within the Toronto Public Library is Beau. Beau has been a librarian for approximately 10 years and when he first began serving the public as a librarian, he worked part time at branches all over the city. His longest commute was on the 501 Queen street car, travelling 2 hours each way from his home to the Long Branch library near my home. As all librarians in the TPL, he is dedicated to his work. Would Mayor Ford ride two hours to work on the TTC? I think not.

Wendy Cranston

I love all the librarians and the assistants at my local library – Northern District. My favourite no longer is working Marie. She taught classes in computers for beginners and was always very helpful whenever I had a problem with them and anything else. i miss her, but I can’t imagine a library without libraries. Its like books without writers to me.

Elaine Berns

When I was a young child, I had a librarian who used to sit on a rocking chair and read to all of us children. Somehow, by looking into our eyes or our smiles or our sadness, she would select the most wonderful book. It was as though she was feeling what we were feeling and as she read, she was a child just like the rest of us. We all went on such amazing journeys together and it gave us a real sense that anything was possible. I remember writing a small story for my librarian about a King who was very sad and could not laugh. He said he would pay anyone a lot of money if they could make him laugh. People lined up at his door day after day until late into each night and the King could not laugh. I wrote about a secret that a bird carried and I described how the bird communicated the secret to the King who received it and began laughing with great joy. He would not stop laughing for endless days and nights. My librarian laughed when she read my story and said it was clever and that I had a gift for telling stories. This changed my life because I felt she was the Queen of storytelling and she made me feel like a Queen and that there were no limits to my dreams. This warmth and wisdom that librarians share is sacred and its roots allow for discovering the world and what is in our hearts as ONE. I send every librarian a full heart of love and gratitude. You have my respect and I keep hope alive for you, for me, for everyone.

Maria Rosa

I find that the 3 librarians of the downtown Bookmobile service give the most personalized service to their patrons imaginable. As a resident of Toronto Island, we rely on their regular Saturday visits, as I have no doubt do the rest of the communities they serve. They know us all by name. They have been known to bring books on spec for someone, because they know our individual tastes. They will call to let regular users know in advance when they can’t make it for whatever dire reason, so we won’t have to make the trip to their stop and wait in vain. And they are always in good cheer, even when the weather is bad and the trip arduous. We love our Bookmobile and our travelling librarians, and look forward to seeing them every Saturday morning.

Ann Buffery

Marion at the Pape Branch Library (TPL) is the most wonderful person. For years I have seen her smiling face welcoming everyone into the branch. She has been extraordinarily kind, thoughtful, competent and patient while I have observed her helping patrons. I hesitate to say how many years I have been admiring Marion’s dedication, professionalism, and knowledge. The patrons of the Pape Branch Library are from many different communities of interest; they range in age from babies to elders; yet Marion is infallibly resourceful and welcoming. Because of her, the Pape Branch Library is a warm and vibrant space where people come for assistance that they likely could not find elsewhere. Take a moment to imagine…how many newcomers have come into find information on how to get the resources that the municipality, the province or the federal government does not provide; or how many young parents have come into the branch with their young children to get them their first library card and withdraw their first book. I have seen Marion with puppet in hand; I have watched her placing the spools of a film on a projector (Yes, in this great branch one can still see a real film!). The library is a place where everyone feels safe and calm. Marion creates this environment every single day that the Pape Library Branch is open. It is a place where people who have nowhere to go, can find a haven for a time, and where they can check their email, read a local newspaper, catch up with current events, and feel truly welcomed. I am incredibly grateful to Marion. I have never once in my entire time as a patron viewed any altercation in the library, nor seen a dissatisfied patron. That is a miracle! I am at the library on almost a daily basis. I do always have the maximum number of items out on my card. Yes, I do read all those books each week, and listen to all those CDs, and watch all those foreign films. I am a graduate student who does often visit other branches, as well, I am familiar with the university libraries. For this reason I can say unequivocally that never before have I seen such an excellent librarian. I have also worked in academic libraries, in both circulation and reference departments departments, so I understand the profound nature of Marion’s commitment to her vocation.

Yasmine Hassan

Our librarians have no agenda to make a profit, to move customers along briskly, to put productivity over customer service. They recognize regulars and know their reading preferences and make an effort to welcome newcomers. Our librarians are familiar with our unique neighborhood, and they respect our peculiar customs. My favourite librarian remembered that I am a closet poet and made an effort to introduce me to other more confident writers. Privatizing the library will turn it into another book-store. Ask Chapters how that is working out for them.

Hugh Baker

I have been working with the librarian at the Eglington Square Branch since 2010. She has always been a great help to the Poetry Group that we founded from the beginning. Writing is a passion that she holds on a personal level and for me poetry writing is my passion. She has been a great support throughout the years with respect to all of the program logistics and has been a strong presence in supporting the positivity of the work we do which is extending poetry to the community on a public level for inspiring and entertaining others about the joy of poetry and writing. She transcends the library and is a key factor to the success that we have had in the past and for us now going forward. She has exceeded all of my expectations to what a librarian should be, and she is also the reason why I love the library, I am very grateful and honoured to have her managing the library in all respects.

Kirk Davis

Although I am not a resident of Toronto I am a fan of its library system. As the country’s largest city it also has one of the best libraries in the country. For those who love to read a library is one of the best places in the world to visit. And while I love Vancouver’s great architectural buildings, Toronto has some wonderful edifices in it. The work librarians do, while mostly unsung, are one of the great examples of the selfless civil servant. Keep the library within the city’s purview Mr. Mayor. They are an invaluable asset to the city.

Gary Crosby

Rita at Parkdale is one of the great librarians of Toronto. Her incredible service to people from all walks of life is a matter of public record. Read about this great Canadian here: http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/local/article/606179

Walter Brooker

My favourite Librarian was Helen, the Library Consultant for the former East york board of Education. She was hired by the Board to set up libraries in all of the schools in East York. She was able to convince the then all male administration to provide her with a more than adequate budget to do the job – and an incredible job she did. She worked with Principals to hire an array of very talented Teacher Librarians. As well as providing us with Administrative skills, she encouraged us to develop creative programmes that would bring students and staff into the libraries. She always reminded us that we were training the public library users of the future. Although a strong and dynamic leader at a time when women were fighting for equality, she considered herself a traditional female. She and I had many discussions about what women should be able to do and she affectionately called me “her women’s libber”. My admiration for her and the confidence she had in me made me decide to move into school administration where I was able to support the work of Teacher Librarians in my own schools.

Dorothy Murray

My favourite librarian is Celine from the North York Public Library. Her dedication is remarkable. She has initiated several book clubs which are well attended and her services are always personal and punctual.

Lucie Laprade

A few months after my debut novel, That Summer in Franklin, Second Story Press, 2011 was published, a friend gave me Renuka’s name, suggesting Taylor Memorial Library might be interested in an author visit and reading. Renuka replied right away and we have worked out a date, March 20, 2012, for my reading there. I am impressed by her interest in work and her prompt response to my query.

Renuka Jeyanayagam

Hi, I’m 6. The best librarian ever is Teddy at High Park. He is very nice. He always helps me find books and thinks up other ones I will like too. He even helped order in the best Star Wars Lego book and then said I should look at the one that is for building your own Lego. He is really great. He did my kindergarten class visit too. He read us good books. I always go upstairs to see him when I am at the library. He says hi too.

Steven Zeidler

Not a particular librarian, although Sue at the Deerpark Library is always wonderful, but some libraries that I always deal with are the best … Spadina, Deerpark, Lillian Smith and Wychwood. Without these libraries , and without the librarians at these libraries … the neighbourhoods that they serve would be sadder places.

Sarah Milton-Lomax

My favourite librarian in the Toronto Public Library system is Joanne, now retired but once attached to Boys and Girls House near the corner of Spadina and College. I was on the staff of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre which was located a few minutes away and, while I felt pretty confident in my knowledge of Canadian children’s books at that time (mid-1980s), I realized I knew very little about what was out there internationally. So I approached Joanne and asked her to push books at me that represented the best in children’s books round the world. “Do you want popular stuff or lit?” she asked. “Lit.” I replied — and in the next year and more she gave me an informal course in the wonderful body of work by writers from the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand — really throughout the English-speaking world. Every couple of weeks I’d take back the four or five books I’d borrowed, and she’d give me four or five more. It was an exhilarating, illuminating experience — and I have never forgotten her generosity and the breadth of her knowledge. She was my own private book-pusher — something every library patron should have. Thanks to Joanne and to the TPL for being there and educating me in the very best sense of the word.

Peter Carver

I love Brian and the whole team at the High Park branch because they makes the library a welcome place to get books. The branch is always busy and the librarians are always amazingly helpful and kind.

Jody Smith

I love the desk staff at Eatonville…these folks have a good sense of humour despite the dark times faced by Toronto Libraries. After waiting my turn in line, as I moved towards the desk I asked, pointing to the “READ” posters behind the counter featuring Mayor Miller, Margaret Atwood and others, when the Mayor Ford edition of the poster would be appearing. There was some snickering and disapproving laughter, having evoked the “F” word from within the hallowed stacks. I’m still waiting for that poster, though.

Lori Bonham

I was overseas on a long vacation. I was unaware that my library card was about to expire until I tried to download an e-book while still away. I had an electronic chat with a librarian in Toronto (at my branch I assume) who helped me through the process of extending the period for my card till I got back from my trip. Now that was service!

Julia Gluck

Vicki is always helpful and enthusiastic. She is extremely knowledgeable and never fails to do her best to find the information everyone needs!

Kathy Crozier

I have many favourite librarians both at my local library Main Street branch and at the Toronto Research library on young. I visit and use both extensively. At my local library many of them have taken the time to get to know me over the years, and ask me what is the current project I am working on relating to the many books I am taking out and the topics. As a designer for theatre who does extensive research, we often talk about the books I borrow and then extend that later if they have seen the shows or heard about it what they thought. It is their personal approach they take that makes me think they are fabulous librarians and the library itself not just an automated system. I also find at the research library the librarians very helpful and wonderful. I can relate my experience I have had in the last few months, where more than once the librarians went above and beyond to trace a volume of obscure Jacobean text I was searching for in stacks that seemed to be unable to be found. At both places these are people who care and their knowledge and years of experience invaluable to the library system.

Carolyn Smith

I had not visited the library since my boyhood in the 1940s. The feelings were strange and unexpected. I visited the Kew Beach Library to search out a magazine article. I had lived in the Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto in the ‘forties and early ‘fifties. The library had been an important part of my life. Through my visit I learned just how much it had shaped my world.

I remember the pride I felt, like a member of a select club, when the children’s librarian made a visit to my class in nearby Williamson Road P.S to promote the use of the library. When she saw me she beamed and exclaimed to the class, resting her hand on my shoulder, “Now here is someone who is always in our library.”

Jerry Diakiw

In a Library a while back a Little girl in front of me getting out a dozen books. I had to smile because I get that. Off she went with her bag of books. And then there was a little boy at the desk. He’d lost his Dad in the stacks. And the librarian asked very gently, “Are you lost?” And the little chest heaved and the giant tears spilled over and we all instinctively moved closer to comfort him. And the security guard went to look for his Dad and little lost boy stayed with us, eyes full and big as saucers and Dad was found and all was well again. But that ten minutes – that ten minutes of community – we didn’t know each other. But we all had a library card.

Sue Edworthy

As I stood up to receive my Diploma, I noticed a familiar face looking up at me. The person sitting next to me was the librarian who worked at the Albion Library 25 years ago. After all these years, she recognized me and asked me if I still visited the public library. I informed her that I did and would purposely return books late so I could pay the overdue fines. This was my way of supporting the library especially when there were government cutbacks to services. The librarian smiled and thanked me for my support.

I told her that I was proud to do whatever I could and that the library literally saved my life that I had a safe place to escape to from the violence at home, that I acquired a good education by reading books by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Farley Mowat.

Randolph Ouimet

The greatest help I have ever received have not been from doctors, teachers, and preachers, but from librarians.

Without librarians, knowledge would be far more difficult to access. It is one thing to have a building with books in it, it is quite another to be able to access it. When learning something new, it is important to have experienced librarians to help you navigate the collections so you will know what books are introductory and what books are advanced. In essence, librarians help rank knowledge so that we can grow through each learning stage. No community can develop economically without a solid knowledge base. We have entered the information age, this is the most critical time in our history for maintaining our library staff. In fact, I would like to see more librarians hired in Toronto.

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