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September 2010

Who is Lillian?

September 29, 2010 | Frances | Comments (0)

"Which branch is this", the patron asks as he reserves a computer. "Lillian H. Smith, Lillian with an L." I stress the L so that he doesn't think I'm saying William. And then he asks the next most frequently asked question about our name - "who is Lillian Smith?"

Looking at the biographical sources and essays, there are a lot of descriptions of her impact and achievements: "first trained children's librarian in the British Empire", "pioneer and innovator of children's public library services", "an inspiration to several generations of children's librarians".

Lillian Helena Smith was a Canadian who trained in the United States and worked in New York Public Library. In 1912,  George H. Locke, chief librarian of Toronto Public Library asked her to come to Toronto to organize the children's department. In 1922 a separate children's library (Boys and Girls House) was established and she went on to serve children in Toronto for 40 years!  She was influential as a writer on children's literature, as  a lecturer and mentor at the library school at the University of Toronto, and as an advocate for children's library services in North America.

We are pleased to have such an illustrious librarian as our namesake, but that doesn't tell you everything about us! Watch this space for more about our branch, neighbourhood news, staff recommendations and  more. And if you want to shorten our name, we are Lillian, not Smith!

If you are interested in more information about Lillian, see

Lillian H. Smith library, in the heart of the Discovery District, Chinatown and Kensington Market, is a district branch of Toronto Public Library. Learn more about your local library & community, and while you're at it, drop us a comment. If you are visiting us in person, look for the bronze gryphons guarding our door.