A Love Letter to the Toronto Reference Library

It’s 10 a.m. on Saturday morning and the Toronto Reference Library is buzzing with activity. Outside, the day-old snow has congealed into a brownish sludge and a harsh wind howls. Inside, the TRL provides a welcome breather from the unrelenting gloom of January, it is the perfect place to spend a chilly afternoon.

The original architect, Raymond Moiyama, built the library in 1977 at Yonge & Bloor. His inspiration: an empty cup. Moiyama envisioned a vast interior that would later be filled up with people and their imaginations.  Today, TRL’s modern, spacious design and wall-to-wall carpeting provide a pleasant escape for an ever-growing group of people.

Apart from being one of the city’s largest wireless Internet hotspots and a popular locale for arts and literary events, such as this year’s Book Lover’s Ball, the newly renovated TRL is home to countless books, periodicals, multimedia material, private study pods, the TD Gallery, a 3D printer, and the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon. Another exciting addition is the “writers room,” complete with workstations, power outlets, wireless Internet and ample desk space.

Margaret Henry, now retired, was the library’s manager of performing arts and languages and periodicals and newspapers. For years, she spent almost every day in the TRL but never tired of the building’s beauty and limitless potential.  “It is an important part of so many people’s lives–students, newcomers, those seeking refuge from a tough world–people of all kinds have a tremendous emotional attachment to the TRL,” she said.

As 5 p.m. approaches, the low hum of voices and the quiet shuffling of feet begin to die down. The last of the patrons make their way out, leaving the library pin-drop silent, save for the odd beep of a cell phone or a stifled cough of a staff member. And just like Raymond Moiyama envisioned it, the Toronto Reference Library has been drained of its patrons and its loving staff, leaving only the bare bones of a beautiful building–an emptied cup.

In celebration of Toronto Public Library’s 100 branches, TRL will be hosting the 10th anniversary of the Book Lover’s Ball. Guests are invited to dine and mingle among celebrity authors including Liz Renzetti, Dionne Brand, Linwood Barclay and David Sax. This lively event will be held Thursday February 5, 2015.


  1. Em_Cats
    January 30, 2015

    shedoesthecity torontolibrary always has been. Lovely atmosphere.

  2. MsMarieB
    January 30, 2015

    YVHunter theurbangeog shedoesthecity Wow. that is just so fabulous. You capture the essence of a Saturday afternoon..at torontolibrary

  3. theurbangeog
    January 30, 2015

    MsMarieB YVHunter shedoesthecity torontolibrary I agree! And also a Friday evening. I’m here now, feeling that 6pm slow down & hush.

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