Toronto Public Library Homepage

This page has been archived and is no longer updated.


Voices From the Workshops: Johnnie Walker

December 3, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (2)

Monologue - By Johnnie Walker


A man of about 30 wearing a black pea coat with a Remembrance Day poppy on the lapel.

Welcome to the library. I'm not going to talk about the service cuts. Or the mayor's office. Or the Margaret Atwood thing, or any of that stuff. Unfortunately, I really cannot comment. I'm am employee of the city, actually. I work for city museums, small ones, the ones that...  So, but in terms of what's up for cuts, and that KPMG thing, and which libraries or museums might be affected, that's just... I can't really talk about... Welcome to the library! It's pretty big! I love it here, actually, although I've honestly only been a couple of times. I mean, obviously I've been to other reference libraries in other cities, we all have. But this one. It's big. iI's open. Although I haven't seen it out of construction, and I haven't seen what the plans are for the renovation, so I don't really know it in that context. It's quiet, though. No, actually, you'd be surprised at how noisy some libraries can get. Especially university libraries?

Yeah, so I've been over here are the microfilm station. Do you know microfilm? Similar to microfiche, but um, also different. As a historian by trade, I can tell you that as far as old documents are concerned, microfilm is the way to go. I'm doing research on the Holiday season in Toronto in the 1920s, so, I'm looking through old copies of Châtelaine from the 1920s and 1930s. Same Châtelaine we have today, yeah, the first issue came out September 1928, which actually surprised me, I thought it was earlier. So, I'm looking at ads, home decorating, holiday stories, and hopefully, we'll be developing programming with the museum. I'm working at Spadina [pronounced “Spa-dee-na”] Museum right now, and we're currently undergoing a massive restoration to return the house to the way it looked in the 1920s and 1930s. Cause now it's actually different rooms, different decades, you know? And ten, twenty years ago, museums were pretty static, and you wouldn't be making a change like this, but now things are starting to change, um, in museums, and we want to be able to show people a different section of Toronto history. Fortunately, when the house was donated, all of its contents were donated to the city as well, and the family kept everything, so there's really a lot to work with; we don't actually have to source anything from outside. Furniture, fabrics, decor, it's all there already. So, it should be something a little bit different, because as far as Toronto museums are concerned, you've already got Fort York, Colbourne Lodge, Mackenzie house, and they're all showing you the 1800s, so this is a chance for Spadina Museum to show you something... a little bit different.

So, welcome to the library. Um, enjoy the microfilm station. I'm sure someone who works here will be happy to explain how it works if you've never used it before, because it's not entirely intuitive. And I'm sure there's lot of other things the library has to offer. Just like the smaller museums of Toronto have, you know, a lot to offer. Provided they... but no, we're not going to talk about that. I really, really, really couldn't comment.

This monologue is reprinted with permission from the author. It was performed at the Toronto Reference Library as part of David Young's Writer-in-Residence workshop program, on November 30, 2011.

Voices from the Workshops: Ana Lorena Leija

December 2, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (3)

A Study Room of My Own - By Ana Lorena Leija

A big library table, with three or four thick books opened in different pages, a notebook, pen, markers and a computer. Nino is nicely dressed, handsome man in his late thirties. Talking to the audience.

NINO: I’ve been coming here for a week now, and I’m planning to keep coming for another week. I come every day because I’m preparing for an interview, a new job in the pharmaceutical industry. I do have an MBA, believe it or not. But what I’ve got so far hasn’t been great. A couple of odd jobs on the outskirts of the city, and the commuting is just killing me. Also... (he hesitates) well, I haven’t been able to stay in the same job for a long time because we have been travelling. My wife and I, we have been travelling a lot in the last couple of years, unfortunately mainly for sad reasons. Last year... She’s not from Canada so... she needs to travel a lot, to see her family and stuff. She comes from a traditional family, everybody is very close, they love each other. So she finds it difficult to be here. I sometimes find it difficult too. When I was a boy, my mother used to send us back to Italy to see our grandparents, so that we spend some time with them. A lot of my good childhood memories didn’t happen in Canada... I do feel like a Canadian, though. Anyway, when I see her suffering and feeling so lonely, I just can’t say no. So a lot of our money has vanished in airplane fares. And we were trying to save money for a house after we got married, but boy!, houses are just so expensive. And they are not even that beautiful. We just can’t afford them! (Pause) She doesn’t like that. I don’t like it either, but I’m ok renting for the moment. (Beat) I love her so much, you should meet her, she is absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful hazel eyes, wonderful smile... although she gets so depressed sometimes; I think she misses the sun, especially in November, well, in winter. Anyway, last year everything just got messed up... ehmmm... her brother died, and it was like a super shock for her. We went there and she was in pain, deep pain. She didn’t want to come back here. She stayed longer, I came back. I found another job and tried to be supportive. Eventually she came back, but this time it was definitive, she really doesn’t want to stay here. She wants me to go back with her and find a job there. But I’m not sure I want to do that. I mean, I like her country very much, it’s another culture, they are extremely friendly and kind people. And... you know how it works in some countries, everything is through connections and her family has connections, so there might be a job for me, for sure. It’s just that I still don’t know. (Beat) I feel she wants me to hate Toronto the way she does. And I simply don’t. There are a lot of problems in this city, don’t get me wrong. I know there are a lot of problems but... I know how it works here, I like a lot of things. (Beat) I would definitely miss hockey... I love her, I want to have kids with her, a family, maybe that will make her happy, but she wants us to move. And I don’t know what to say, I can’t seem to convince her otherwise.

So I’m preparing for this interview, it seems like a good opportunity but my head is asking in the background: what for? Here, I can concentrate. At home I wouldn’t have the space, you know. Here, all the manuals are up to date, and if I need to know a technical term, I can look it up right away. (shyly) Well, I use Wikipedia too, but this environment works for me, it’s a working environment. I don’t know what will happen afterwards, but in the mean time, I’ll keep coming to the library from 10 in the morning to 7 at night. It’s a nice way to study. It’s soothing. And it gives me a break from all these questions... but I do love her, I do.


This monologue is reprinted with permission from the author. It was performed at the Toronto Reference Library as part of David Young's Writer-in-Residence workshop program, on November 30, 2011.

Voices from the Workshops: Howard Biel

December 1, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (0)

Toronto Reference Library: A Monologue by Howard Biel

In my day, libraries used to have books...not computers. Rows and rows of shelves filled with books...10 feet high. You had to climb a ladder to get 'em from the top shelf. What a beautiful thing to see. Books, books and more books...the key to an education. Hell, in school, the library came to us...called a "Bookmobile". 'Twas a trailer filled with books. Came once a week. Tuesdays was our day. I remember how much I looked forward to that day. I loved reading books. Reading and playing road hockey...can't get more Canadian than that, eh?

I think it was my Uncle Dave who got me so interested in reading. History, biographies, the Hardy Boys Mysteries....and even Nancy Drew, but don't write that down, 'cause I'll deny it!  The very first time I came into this library was to find a history book, "Dileas, A History of the 48th Highlanders." No other library in the city had it. I had told my son about his great-uncle Dave and his heroism in World War Two. He decided to do a history essay about him in grade 6. I knew my uncle was mentioned in "Dileas" and cited for bravery. Had to come to the Reference Library to photocopy the info. That essay formed part of my uncle's eulogy delivered by my son.

I'd never seen a lobby area like that before. I was in awe. Still am. I do feel somewhat intimidated by all the youngsters in the library. Sure, there's a few old fogies like me, but mainly university students. Backpacks filled with textbooks and laptops.  It’s very different today.  Such a marvel watching them read and study…on computer, no less!  Man, I miss those university days. This place didn't exist back then. We had the Robarts Library. It was new and state of the art when I went to U of T in the early seventies. Nothing like this, though.  This place is open, inviting…says, “C’mon in.”  And it’s more than just a place to sit and read.  The name Reference Library conjures up images of rows of encyclopedia…Britannica, Compton’s…they’re obsolete now with the internet.  This place is so much more.  The programs; they’re outstanding.  Lectures, accomplished authors, public figures, writing workshops, the Bluma Appel Salon series.  Gets the community involved.  Oh, to be young again…to take full advantage of what the Toronto Reference Library has to offer.  I enjoy it here.  The experience of it.  The feel of the edifice itself…what it gives to this city.  I’m proud to be a Torontonian.


This monologue is reprinted with permission from the author. It was performed at the Toronto Reference Library as part of David Young's Writer-in-Residence workshop program, on November 30, 2011.

Julian Richings joins R H Thomson and David Young tonight

November 30, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (0)

Julian RichingsToronto Reference Library is excited to announce that Julian Richings will be joining R. H. Thomson tonight, Wednesday, November 30th, to help us celebrate the new talent emerging from the Playwright-in-Residence program, conducted by David Young.

Julian Richings is an award-winning actor whio has appeared on stage, in film and on television. Most recently, audiences will know him for his appearances on Supernatural, Hard Core Logo 2, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

Mr. Richings and Mr. Thomson will be reading from original works created by the new and talented playwrights and screenwriters who have participated in David's workshops this fall.

Please join us for:

Voices from the Workshops

Wed Nov 30, 2011

7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

90 mins

Toronto Reference Library Atrium

Meet the new talent emerging from the Playwright in Residence workshops. Our Closing Night celebration will feature dramatic readings of new and original works.

Admission is free.


Playwright David Young will be blogging in this space from October - November, 2011 as Toronto Reference Library's Playwright-in-Residence.