I wanted to go to Hush Hush, the New Collection‘s annual soiree at Toronto’s Bloor/Gladstone Library, but a few things came up and it just wasn’t possible. I was, however, at the library the next day, wandering around with my four year old, finding books about volcanoes and dinosaurs (a couple of his latest fascinations). A regular weekend ritual for us. 

Walking into the library, I scanned the aisles to see if there were any remnants of the raucous fundraiser that took over the space the night before. There were no signs, but on that Sunday afternoon, the library was fully populated. 

After browsing the racks and picking the books he wanted (plus a few about fairness and honesty that I thought he should read), we took notice of a busy table of kids in the back corner working on some crafts.

“Would you like to join and build something?” the friendly facilitator asked my son.

Holding my leg, and hiding behind it, he nodded yes. 

“Here, you can sit here,” she motioned to the table with very small chairs. “You have to figure out how to build something to protect this ball.” 

So my son and I got busy taping, cutting and poking sticks through a cup, trying to create a safe space for a paper ball. Only after we had completed our assignment did I notice an event calendar with the workshop description: “MINI MAKERS: Junior builders aged 4-8 and their families are invited to join us every Sunday for fun, hands-on activities that explore STEM concepts and spark wonder, creativity and discovery. Try something different each week!” How wonderful! Perhaps a new Sunday tradition, now that the weather is a bit cooler. 

There were definitely a lot of families in the brightly coloured kids section, but the computer room was also full, as was the second floor. People reading, discovering, likely using the free internet for employment searches, or apartment hunting, and definitely a few who seemed like they were there for some peace and quiet, snoozing in a safe space with warmth and a clean restroom.

On our way out, we ran into my son’s classmate, which was a huge thrill for them both, and then we stopped to chat with the librarian at the front desk about his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt. Our knapsack full of books, and our hands full of our unexpected craft, my son left feeling accomplished, proud and excited to dig into his new books back at home. 

Our adventures in the library are always unpredictable, and frankly, through my son’s interests, I am learning (or re-learning) so many subjects that I haven’t considered in decades. (Were you aware that the power surges through the northern lights can give off one million megawatts of electricity? Did you know that the sun’s mass is as much as 330,000 Earths?) Reading to him about the solar system, alligators, or whatever new category he’s into, always makes me reconsider our world and remind me to think about it in a refreshed way.

I could really go on about our amazing, and extremely welcoming, library system for days, but instead I’ll leave you with some of the photos from Hush Hush: Dewey Decimal to Digital. Maybe you’ll go next year, or learn more about what the New Collection is all about. Or perhaps I’ll see you on Sunday, in the aisles, chasing down something that has piqued your curiosity.