There’s been a lot of negativity in Toronto lately. The mayor’s office seems to be in utter chaos, and despite his protestations, it is most definitely not business as usual at City Hall. But there is more to Toronto than the mayor. There are so many things that make this a great city, which is why I’ve decided to accentuate the positive and write about one of them: the Toronto Public Library.
I love the Toronto Public Library. Love it. For years I lived a few blocks north of Steeles, just beyond the border, and I envied Torontonians their library. I often made use of the TPL, particularly the Reference Library, but I lacked the library card that would give me borrowing privileges, and full access to all the services offered through the library. Then I moved to Toronto. There were a lot of benefits to moving further south. My car insurance dropped, my commute to work became shorter, and best of all, I finally had full access to one of the finest library systems in the world! For free!
If you’re a musician in Toronto, you probably know that the Toronto Reference Library is home to a fabulous collection of music scores.
I borrow scores on what feels like a weekly basis. If there’s a piece, or a song cycle, or an entire opera role that I think I might like to learn, I borrow it from the library. If there’s a musical theatre selection, or a folksong that I want to assign a student, but don’t have in one of my own anthologies, I borrow it from the library. If it’s festival season, and my students need a second original copy of the music for the adjudicator, I borrow it from the library. All I have to do is look it up on the online catalogue, and then go to the library and get it, or place a hold on it, and wait for it to arrive at my home branch for pick-up.
Another fabulous resource is the TPL’s extensive selection of online databases. About a year after first receiving my treasured library card, I made a most joyous discovery: I had online access to The Journal of Singing. This is the official publication of The National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), a peer reviewed journal containing research on vocal pedagogy, analysis of vocal literature, book reviews, and interviews with world renowned performers. I thought I’d have to go down to the Reference Library to read journal articles. Instead, I was able to spend a blissful few hours reading past issues, while in the comfort of my own home (ie. drinking tea and most likely wearing pajamas). Seriously, though, this is an invaluable resource for any singer or teacher. We can keep up with the latest research without having to subscribe to the journal individually. I encourage everyone with a library card to make use of these resources, and if you don’t have a library card, go get one right now!