The Côte Saint-Luc Eleanor London Public Library is 50 years old and on September 18 we celebrated this remarkable silver anniversary with an entire day of events. As the city councillor responsible for Library and Culture, I could not be more proud of the job Director of Library Services Janine West and her team did to put this together.
When our 2016 Canada Day celebrations were rained out, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein suggested immediately that we make our Library celebration bigger than usually planned. So we concluded everything with a bang – an amazing concert performance by the band Vintage Wine and laser show. Oh yes, the weather was absolutely perfect. We created a makeshift outdoor concert bowl at the rear of our parking lot. The band was so well received that the moment they began to play people came out of the audience to dance. Special mention must go to Mayor Brownstein and wife Elaine, Councillor Allan J. Levine and wife Rhona and D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum and Councillor Ruth Kovac who really danced up a storm.
While Eleanor London, our founding librarian could not attend due to health reasons, Miriam Lang addressed the audience. The wife of the late Mayor Bernard Lang, Miriam told us all how the creation of our library all began in the kitchen of her home with a small committee. She said some people questioned Mayor Lang’s decision to select the second floor of the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre as the initial location, but it turned out to be the perfect spot until our City Hall/Library Complex was constructed. We now have without a doubt the finest public library in Quebec and possibly Canada.
So how did we else did we celebrate?
We start things off, under the circus tent in the Children’s Library there was an extra special storytime, with birthday themed books, party hats for all, and a great birthday craft for the kids to take home. We then brought in kosher pizza for all, along with juice boxes and waters. This went over very well with those who lined up for a fun lunch.
In our multi-purpose room we asked youngsters to create their very own birthday cards for the future library time capsule we will unveil so that future generations can read their birthday wishes for this very special place. Kids decorated and filled out a card and then had their pictures taken with our “happy birthday” sign. The activity involved the creation of the content for the time capsule. All those who participated will be invited to attend the time capsule burying ceremony, taking place at a later date.
Rather than a large birthday cake, we ordered 900 absolutely delicious cupcakes. We thank our sponsor, RBC Royal Bank at Kildare and Cavendish, for this amazing snack. I admit – I had more than one!
Outside behind the library, in Ashkelon Garden, we had face painting, a glitter tattoo artist, a balloon sculptor, chess, inflatables, WIMA musicians playing music of the 60s and a few inflatables.
A photo booth was setup in the lobby. Folks loved having their pictures taken with fun and wacky props and received a print as a memento. There were also stations for button making, rainbow loom bracelets, a treasure hunt, an AWE Literacy Station and a game of Bingo. Prizes included Pharmaprix gift cards, free passes to library events and one video club membership, and items sponsored by Bonder Books
There were some notable displays celebrating 50 years of Memories: A history of the library in photographs in the art gallery and near the Natural History Museum. We had a first look at the CSL Thursday Painting Group’s 50th Anniversary Gift, a large painting of different renderings of a room in the library. It is on the wall behind our reference desk. Also worth checking out is: 50 Years of Time on the cafe glass wall (large Time Magazine covers from 50 years); Library Memorabilia In the Art Gallery Exhibit table; the Senior Men’s Club Art Show in the Community Art Space
We had a number of kiosks, including a Library Bag Giveaway (sponsored by Quartier Cavendish), and Adopt-a-Book Table.
At a VIP reception, we welcomed members of council, former Mayor Robert Libman, former councillors David Klinger, Isadore Goldberg and Joseph Panunto, Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal and former Mayor Anthony Housefather and David Birnbaum. We recognized Lisa Milner, a manager at our library who oversaw the operation during the four years we were a borough of the city of Montreal and City Manager Tanya Abramovitch, now on maternity leave with twins who served as our chief librarian before being elevated to her current post.
"I am really very honoured to have had the privilege be part of this great library all of these years and I thought I might take this opportunity to talk about greatness and what is it that makes a public library great," Janine West said in her remarks. "First and foremost you have to have a clear vision. And here I have to thank Eleanor London our founding librarian for giving us her vision of a people’s library where the library is built for people first and foremost and not just for books.
"To be great a library needs the support from upper city management. The library has always been blessed with city managers who support the library but the library has a great champion in Tanya Ambramovitch, the previous library director and now our city manager. Tanya, whose passion and vision equalled if not surpassed Eleanor’s saw the library could be an important player in city building creating a healthy and vibrant city dedicated to improving the quality of life for all residents.. I thank Tanya for believing in me and trusting me to carry the library’s mission forward with this all important torch. In order to have a great library you need great staff, staff that understand the vision of the library and who are smart, creative, loyal and dedicated and will do what it takes to not only to deliver outstanding service but outstanding experiences to CSL residents.My staff, I am lucky to have them at my side. To the ones present I want to tell you that you make my job so much easier. Your contributions to the library are sometimes unsung but never unappreciated. I am so grateful to have you as part of my team.
"To make a library great you need to have a great city council, a council who believes in the library. From past mayors and city councillors to our present mayor Mitchell Brownstein and current slate of city councillors, all have believed in and supported the mission of the library. We could not do what we do without their support. I thank them wholeheartedly. And finally there is the community. The library cannot be great if you don’t have the love and support of the community. In our library that support comes in the form of dedicated and committed library ambassadors, individuals that give not only of their time, but their ideas, their spirit and their love. Support from the community also comes in the form of our local businesses who support library initiatives through generous donations. So in summation, all of you here today know that it is because of you that this library is great, why it still has the reputation it has today, why it is still referred to as the jewel of Côte Saint-Luc."
It was an absolutely fabulous day!