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A History of Toronto Public Library Bridlewood Branch

November 15, 2010 | Margaret | Comments (0)

The Bridlewood Library grew up together with its community.

Bridlewood-library-01 The Name Bridlewood was derived from the fact that the forested location was once used as a racehorse training ground for the King's (now Queen's) Plate.  Five Queen's Plate winners were trained there.  The area also housed one of the largest indoor racetracks in Canada.  It was not until the 1960s that developers, such as Robert McClintock, first redeveloped the land into an area suitable for comfortable homes and then, in 1975, for an indoor shopping centre.

The Bridlewood Library officially opened its doors on May 5, 1976 (though it actually was opened to the public on March 22, 1976 at exactly 12:30 pm).  It was one of the five new branch libraries that the former Scarborough Public Library Board opened between the years 1972 and 1977 to serve its surging population.  Due to a concerted effort to place libraries where people gathered, the five branch libraries (Cliffcrest, Guildwood, Port Union, Woodside and Bridlewood) were strategically located in the shopping malls or plazas right in their own neighbourhoods.

With 3, 265 sq. ft. of floor space and a collection that consisted for 14, 000 titles, the first home of the library was located where the current Bulk Food Store is in the mall.  The layout was designed to have the look of a modern bookstore and the aim was to support casual reading and easy access to reading materials.

The library was embraced by the community from the very beginning, yet it was not until 1992 that an opportunity came to greatly expand the well-used space to 5,400 sq. ft.  Although Bridlewood Library's second home was away from the mall's main shopping corridor, the public appreciated a larger collection and a meeting room.

After the City of Toronto Amalgamation in 1998, Bridlewood Library became the Toronto Public Library Bridlewood Branch and quickly stood out as one of the top 5 busiest neighbourhood branches in the system.  In 2009, the Bridlewood Branch became the third busiest neighbourhood branches in the system.  The yearly circulation in 2009 was 438, 694.

Yet, when customers think of Bridlewood, they are more likely to think about the many community programs that take place there. Current program partnerships in the branch include the Library Settlement Partnerships, English Conversation Circle, and Chess in the Library.  The Library staff also participate in community outreach activities such as the Steeles L'Amoreaux Youth Empowerment Network Community Roadshows in local high schools.

In 2010, the Bridlewood Branch has the opportunity to expand once again.  The Bridlewood Branch will be expanding into a new prominent location to better serve the diverse needs of the ever changing Bridlewood Neighbourhood.


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