The city forgets
“I remember when Jack Layton jumped on the table and said, “It’s a Jewel!” We said after, “Did we all dream that? Can’t have been ’cause if we did we had the same dream!”
that the Urban Affairs Library
was threatened by funding cuts many times over the years, necessitating at one point the advocacy group “Friends of the Urban Affairs”, founded by then City Councillor Jack Layton. The Urban Affairs library
was a specialized branch that served municipal researchers, urban planners, students, law firms and local residents. When it closed
on September 14th 2011, the space it had occupied at Metro Hall was taken over by the Social Services Division of the City of Toronto. The Urban Affairs collection and staff were relocated to the 2nd floor of the Toronto Reference Library. Not only was the collection shelved but so too was the expertise of Urban Affairs librarians, who worked
tirelessly to answer complex questions about municipal proceedings and urban planning at the old location but now staff a more general reference desk at the Toronto Reference library. The DEPARTMENT is in the process of trying to secure permission to shelve its commemorative sign
for the Urban Affairs Library in the Toronto Reference Library’s Arts Printed Ephemera collection.
The Urban Affairs Library had a unique civic history. What happens when downsizing, numbers and “bums in seats” trump specialized knowledge and expertise?
Memory Archive View the Sign