Outdoor Reading Gardens at Toronto Public Library

April 30, 2015 | Bill V.

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As spring becomes summer and we move into warmer weather, what could be more lovely than reading out of doors? Several Toronto Public Library branches have outdoor reading gardens with a variety of seating and landscaping that you can enjoy.

The Beaches Branch is one of Toronto Public Library's 10 Carnegie buildings (seven are still active). Built in 1915-1916, it's done in an English Renaissance style (lots of interior wood and soaring ceilings in an open central hall design) and is identical to High Park and Wychwood branches.  Beaches Branch is located beside beautiful Kew Gardens, just north of Lake Ontario and the boardwalk and is in heavily wooded neighbourhood. The reading garden was planted within the last few years as part of the most recent renovation.

There is also a detailed, visually interesting Pinterest board on Toronto's 10 original Carnegie branch libraries.

Beaches Branch Toronto Public Library exterior photo of reading garden (reason # 70)

If you're visiting the Beaches Branch, don't miss Wordsworth, the one-ton bronze owl sculpture, installed at the branch entrance on July 7, 2005. It was designed by architect Phillip H. Carter and artisan Ludzer Vandermolen. If you like the owl, then you'll likely really enjoy this duo's work at the entrance of the Lillian H. Smith Branch where they have two large bronze griffins flanking the doors.

Beaches Branch Toronto Public Library exterior photo of bronze owl sculpture and reading garden (reason # 70)


For something very different, I want to take you to Bloor/Gladstone Branch. Built in 1913 in the Beaux Arts style it was renovated extensively between 2006 and 2009 and the award winning results are awe inspiring (including a large pavilion addition). The renovation was very complex, but the final product is outstandingly beautiful and includes an exterior reading garden space accessible from the inside of the branch. Bloor/Gladstone also has Toronto Public Library's first green roof. There is a very detailed Pinterest board on the history of the branch that you might like as well.

Bloor Gladstone Branch Library reading garden reason # 70 courtyard

Bloor Gladstone Branch Toronto Public Library reading garden Reason #70 exterior photo of courtyard

Reading gardens are not a recent innovation at Toronto Public Library, as seen in this 1911 newspaper article about the then new Bloor Gladstone Branch, where they describe a garden terrace with fountain and shrubbery being used as a summer reading area.

Article about Bloor Gladstone Dovercourt Branch Library from the Toronto Star Dec 13 1911 page 7


There are several other library branches in Toronto that also have reading gardens:

And if your local branch doesn't have a formal outdoor reading garden space, it may have a bench in front of it and some lovely rose bushes like Highland Creek Branch.

Highland Creek Branch Library outdoor bench and roses