Toronto Reference Library #TPLFoodHunt

Lisa and I decided the next library to visit would be relatively close in vicinity to our offices.  This led us to one of my favourite libraries in Toronto — the Reference Library.  I remember the first time I stepped into this library back when I was researching some materials for a history paper — walking into this institution was one of the few times I felt inspired.

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This is a part of the #TPLFoodHunt exploration series.

Lisa and I decided the next library to visit would be relatively close in vicinity to our offices.  This led us to one of my favourite libraries in Toronto — the Reference Library.  I remember the first time I stepped into this library back when I was researching some materials for a history paper — walking into this institution was one of the few times I felt inspired.

This was what a library should feel like!  Times have changed and the Toronto Reference Library has gone through some major renovations.  In addition to the 5 floors of great reference material and a number of special collections, this library now even hosts a small retail store and cafe.  This is great for anyone who wants to grab a quick bite or drink without stepping outside — particularly during the cold winters.  But what if you still have a craving for something different?  We’ll get to that later.

The rather glamourous front entrance of the Toronto Reference Library.
The rather glamourous front entrance of the Toronto Reference Library.
A look down the cascading levels of the library.
A look down the cascading levels of the library.

I’ve always enjoyed just sitting in this library and just taking in the atmosphere.  Whether it was just observing the other folks or just the ambient noise and light, this place can compete against the fanciest of coffee shops and cafes in the city.

I enjoy the beautiful architecture of the Reference Library.  Particularly because it lets in so much natural light.
I enjoy the beautiful architecture of the Reference Library.  Particularly because it lets in so much natural light.

Toronto Reference Library

Photo above by Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Toronto Reference Library also has some interesting tidbits about it.  Due to its brilliant architecture, it has been the filming location for a number of movies.  One of the more recent and notable ones would be Red (2010), with Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Karl Urban, Mary-Louise Parker, and Helen Mirren.

Looking down at the makeshift auditorium and stage on the ground level of the library.
Looking down at the makeshift auditorium and stage on the ground level of the library.

For lunch, Lisa found a great little lunch place, Eat a Pita, just steps away from the Toronto Reference LIbrary.  Practically across the street.  Great place for take out but not so much for eating in — it’s quite small but that shouldn’t pose a problem because you can take your schwarma plate or pita.  What’s even better is that the lunch special is $5 or $6 — hard to find that sort of deal around town these days.  I’ll leave it to Lisa to dish out details over the food.

Our meal of choice:  Eat a Pita -- with a great $5/$6 lunch special!
Our meal of choice:  Eat a Pita — with a great $5/$6 lunch special!

 

Northern District Library #TPLFoodHunt

Since I work relatively close by to the Northern District library, it served as a great launching point.  Hoping to get a nice photograph of the front, I was a bit disappointed to find that we were surrounded by construction on Orchard View Blvd.  This shouldn’t have surprised me because between all the condo developments and the crosstown LRT — the whole Yonge and Eglinton area is under heavy construction.

This is a part of the #TPLFoodHunt exploration series.

Since I work relatively close by to the Northern District library, it served as a great launching point.  Hoping to get a nice photograph of the front, I was a bit disappointed to find that we were surrounded by construction on Orchard View Blvd.  This shouldn’t have surprised me because between all the condo developments and the crosstown LRT — the whole Yonge and Eglinton area is under heavy construction.

The entrance is surrounded by construction
The entrance is surrounded by construction
The plentiful bookshelves of Northern District Library. Quite a spacious and bright interior too.
The plentiful bookshelves of Northern District Library. Quite a spacious and bright interior too.

The most fascinating thing about this library for me is how I had no idea it had been there for the past 7 years — despite walking by the building countless times.  Perhaps I am sadly oblivious to some things around the Yonge and Eglinton area after working there for so long.

Walking into the library from the noisy street and construction was an incredible feeling.  It was like walking into a suddenly tranquil environment.  I immediately started looking around and walking up and down the staircase.

People seem to have some snacks with them and their drinks as well so it appears the library does permit some food provided it isn’t too messy.  I did notice an almost cafeteria-like setting in the library where some folks were enjoying their meal while reading a book so this may be an area meant for a noisier (crunchier?) lunch and allow for a bit of mess.

The staircase is a central aspect of the library.
The staircase is a central aspect of the library.

What about the food?

So after consulting with Lisa, we felt if someone were really hungry or wanted to grab something quick — the best option was the little place just down the street — at the corner of Orchard View Blvd and Yonge.  A Viet-Thai restaurant by the name of Star King serves up some great pho and you can take out should you wish.

There’s more than just pho but I’ll let you check out Lisa’s more in-depth foodie perspective.

Star King was our local nearby choice for food!
Star King was our local nearby choice for food!

Mount Pleasant Library #TPLFoodHunt

Lined up with boutique storefronts and relatively small offices, Mount Pleasant Road is actually quite a nice street to take a stroll and take in a bit of the diversity.  What is fascinating about Mount Pleasant Library itself is that it is wedged between storefronts and is rather a quaint little library.

This is a part of the #TPLFoodHunt exploration series.

Something a little different today as I’m preparing for my trek in Tanzania.  I mentioned a few weeks back that my friend and avid food blogger Lisa Sit would make good use of the Toronto Library Passport.  The idea is to capture a glimpse into each public library, and seek out a place to put to rest those hunger pangs when they strike in the middle of your visit to the library.

Following our trip to the Northern District library (that post will be next week!) close by to the Yonge and Eglinton area, we decided to tackle the next closest library in the vicinity on Mount Pleasant.  Compared to the noisy hustle and large volume of foot traffic on Yonge, Mount Pleasant Road was practically like walking in a park.

Lined up with boutique storefronts and relatively small offices, Mount Pleasant Road is actually quite a nice street to take a stroll and take in a bit of the diversity.  What is fascinating about Mount Pleasant Library itself is that it is wedged between storefronts and is rather a quaint little library.

Despite there being a staircase leading up to a second floor as you enter the library, the main attraction is just on ground level where the bookshelves, computers, and study areas are.  Everything appears as if it is just one large room but the bookshelves serve as dividers.

The lobby area with the staircase to the left and main part of the library to the right.
The lobby area with the staircase to the left and main part of the library to the right.

Despite being a small library, Mount Pleasant was surprisingly busy.  A lot of people were on the computers or sitting back enjoying their read.  Based on our observation of folks around us in the library, it looks like snacks and coffee or tea are permitted.  I think it may be a little harder to bring a burger in here to enjoy but fear not, there is a nice cafe Lisa found nearby for a quick fix if you don’t have time (or don’t want) to sit down at one of the nearby sushi restaurants.

Thobors Boulangerie Patisserie Café is just a quick walk north of the Mount Pleasant Library and serves a variety of sandwiches and baked goods.  Perfect for the “grab and read” too.  I grabbed a vegetarian sandwich but there was a little too much butter for me.  It may just be a personal preference.

What was Lisa’s opinion of the food though?  Take a look.