image of a the grand library steps of the Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal.

Libraries That Inspire – Around the World and In Our Own Backyard

 Susan is a proud advocate for libraries.  She served on the Town of EG’s Library Board for two years (2017-2019) and has been a Friend of the EG Library since 2016.  

I dream about libraries and books. Heaven for me is curling up by a cozy fireplace, drinking hot chocolate and reading a book. Places, where books are stored, read, or sold, are inspiring spaces for writers and readers alike. Did you know that renowned author J.K. Rowling was inspired by one of the most beautiful books stores in the world, the enchanting Livraria Lello bookshop in Porto, Portugal, where she lived for two years? Its winding staircase, wood panelling and stained-glass skylight designed in the Gothic Revival style are distinctly reminiscent of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.

Libraries are some of my favourite spaces in any community, especially here in East Gwillimbury, where we are fortunate to have two branches – one in Mount Albert and the other in Holland Landing. In January, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with the Chair of the EG Library Board, Diana Robichaud, and one of the Board’s longest-serving volunteers of more than a decade, Lynda Young, to ask them to share their favourite library memories. For Diana, her favourite library is the Holland Landing branch because it was one of her family’s first stops in the new neighbourhood when they moved here: “We would walk to it often, visit the park. Use the parking lot for my daughter to practice her bike. I’ve attended the grand opening of the new playground, the splash pad. We’ve had picnics in the grass after checking out books to read. It helped us become part of the community, so when asked if I would consider volunteering, that was an easy answer.” She finds amazing e-books on Hoopla and takes shorts courses that help broaden her knowledge on LinkedIn Learning which are all available through the digital branch.

The Holland Landing branch also serves the community in another special way as home to the monthly Food Pantry, so if anyone needs a hand up, they are welcome to attend, typically on the last Saturday of the month. Right now, Diana is enjoying reading ‘Winter Wives,’ the book featured last month by the Friends of the East Gwillimbury Library in their author series which they hosted virtually. It is a thrilling new psychological drama from Canadian journalist and Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Linden MacIntyre.

Lynda’s favourite library is the Mount Albert branch, also because of special memories created when she moved here more than 39 years ago. At that time, the library wasn’t located on Centre St. in the Ross Family Complex. It was in fact on Main Street, beside where the Duca bank is now, “the smallest library you could imagine.” She can remember, “My kids loved watching the librarian stamp their card and then put it in the pocket of the book jacket. My son Matthew asked what it was for, and I told him that it showed the date of when the book had to be returned, but for two weeks it was his book. Then when he brought it back it would be another little boy or girl. He thought that was wonderful.” It’s treasured moments such as Lynda’s that make libraries so meaningful. Diana Gabaldon’s, ‘Go Tell the Bees I Am Gone,’ the ninth book in the ‘Outlander’ series (for those of you familiar with her writing, you will know this is a serious time investment to read at 928 pages), is the book that Lynda is currently relishing.

Exciting news: The final phase of the Mount Albert branch renovation was just completed. With the support of Council and Municipal staff, two new study rooms have been installed which provide the community with more places to meet and collaborate. The spaces will be open as Covid restrictions permit and residents can reserve them up to a week in advance.

Diana Robichaud, Chair of the EG Library Board, notes that especially during Covid, “As more of our community works from home, owns small businesses and needs somewhere to meet people or a quiet place to work, the two new study rooms add value to our communities. Reliable Internet is still a struggle for many and kids and adults attending school and having somewhere to go that has a quiet space and strong Internet close to home is a real advantage.” Library programming is varied and entertaining, including virtual trivia and escape rooms. And I’ve saved the best news to last: There is a third library coming to EG as part of the Health and Active Living Plaza development in Queensville that will be the jewel in the crown of local library resources. Literally, check them out! Create memories! Be inspired! Dive into the magical world of books. I know you will be greeted warmly by the friendly library staff. For more information on their hours and services, visit HERE


Susan Lahey, MA, ISA CAPP, is a professional art appraiser specializing in Asian art. She provides independent art research, advisory, collection management, teaching and public speaking services.

Susan writes the Art Buzz column for the East Gwillimbury’s Bulletin Magazine

Need a piece appraised? Contact Susan here

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