Meet Trina from the new Scarborough Civic Centre Branch!
Opening Toronto’s 100th public library is no small feat. With just a week left until the grand unveiling, there's still lots to do! I recently got to catch up with Trina Preece, the head of the Scarborough Centre Branch, and talk 3D printers, natural beauty, and…raccoons?
First - congratulations! What an exciting project!
How do you and the Scarborough Centre branch staff feel about opening to the public so soon?
Trina: We can’t wait for people to come through the doors. At the same time, there’s still a lot to do – we’re excited and a little afraid!
There are so many details to look after. What are some of the biggest challenges of opening a brand new branch?
Trina: A big challenge is making sure all the systems and networks are in – just the Wi-Fi, having the computers set up, all of that. We’re a branch with a Digital Innovation Hub, so technology is a big deal.
Plus there are all these new books...
Trina: Getting 42,000 items on the shelf all at once was a real challenge too. We’re not used to seeing so many new items all at once. I looked at the piles of boxes and thought how nothing I had ever done before would help me know how long this would all take….or how much woman-power it would take! It just isn’t something you do every day. If it hadn’t been for the Fort York branch doing it just a year before and having their staff’s support, I think we would have really been in trouble.
The Digital Innovation Hub is an exciting new part of the Scarborough Centre Branch that a lot of people are looking forward to. Can you tell us a little bit about what the Hub is, what it has and what kinds of programming that may be coming out of that space?
Trina: People are very interested in the 3D printers. We’ve got a full size one as well as a miniature version that we’re just getting up and running. The Hub will have scanners, MacBooks for programming, AV equipment that we can play with, the green screen, and a big iMac to edit photos and video.
We also plan on using some of the equipment in our program room, instead of exclusively in the Hub, so we can use it more broadly. We’re really hoping that all types of people will get use out of the technology available.
What about people who maybe don’t necessarily feel ready to take on the Hub?
Trina: I’m still interested in doing some regular user education, like Move That Mouse, because I really don’t like the assumption that everybody wants to use the stuff in the Hub right away. I want to make sure that whatever capacity someone has, they have a way to explore. I’m also doing a program called Tech Curious where we are going to take a look at the stuff in the Hub and approach it slowly, talk about what people’s interests are and so on. Some people may never end up actually using all the tech there, but they still have questions: what’s this all about? What does it do? Why should I care? And it’s important to try and answer those questions.
What are some of your top reasons to love the library?
Trina: Over the years, I have done many, many class visits and I particularly love the Grade 4s. Every class visit, I ask the kids: what is [the library] all about? We talk about cards and how to borrow and I’ll gesture to the collection and ask, “How many people have this much stuff at home?” And they’ll all shout back, “No one! It’s so much stuff!” So I ask them if they think it’s a good idea that they can borrow all of it and they always answer, “It’s a great idea!” and, you know what?
They’re right. It is a great idea! And I’m just happy to be part of that great idea. It really doesn’t get old for me.
One of the things I particularly love about the library is that we’re pretty even-handed about where the money goes. The Mount Dennis branch, for example, is in a typically more disadvantaged part of the city, but it’s a beautiful branch. Scarborough is a place that some would consider underserved, but this is really a beautiful branch too. People in all parts of this city deserve beautiful spaces to feel welcome in.
Very true - Scarborough Centre is certainly an attractive branch. Other than the Digital Innovation Hub, what are some of the other stand-out features of the branch and its surroundings that people can look forward to?
Trina: For me, part of the wonder of this branch is the nature around us. The fact that we have a self-irrigating green roof is amazing! The nature theme is in our colourful KidsStop too. We’ve got oak trees planted along the boulevard and the woods just across the street. We’ve got an outdoor reading garden with a preserved oak tree and the civic green just to the west of us is also being developed.
And the cherry blossoms are out!
Trina: You can definitely already feel it in the air. My personal feeling is that when you’re in our branch, with these high ceilings and spruce beams, you’re going to feel like you’re in your own little forest.
We might be in an awesome forest of books, but you guys are also online, right? Where can we find the Scarborough Centre Branch?
Trina: Yes, we’re on Facebook and Twitter. We’re trying to document a little bit of the process of moving into the branch. We’ve had about four weeks in the branch prior to opening – which sounds like a long time, but when you’re trying to do so much, it’s really not! – so we’re kind of proud of ourselves and want to show off a bit of the space.
Finally, a silly question for you: if you could choose a mascot for the Scarborough Civic Centre branch, what would it be?
Trina: We just realized there’s a couple of raccoons who may have been visiting our reading garden already [laughs] Don’t worry - we have discussed some raccoon-proofing for the branch.
Raccoons can be kind of cute…
Trina: Yeah, and part of me just really has to admire raccoons for their tenacity…so, maybe a raccoon would be the perfect mascot? They kind of thrive no matter what happens!
Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk with me today. We’re all very excited for the Scarborough Branch!
Trina: Thank you! Trust me, we can’t wait!
Toronto Public Library’s 100th branch will officially open on May 20, 2015. I'll be covering the opening day's events, so check back for more!