Library cranks up the volume - Metro US

Library cranks up the volume

If you’ve ever wanted to make noise in the middle of a library, now’s your chance. Starting today, the Toronto Public Library is hosting a series of concerts and workshops smack in the middle of all their books.

The series, titled Make Some Noise, was created in 2006 to give the community something interesting to do, bring more people to the library, and show that there’s more to these institutions than silent reading.

“People’s ideas about libraries and librarians are that they’re hush hush quiet places,” says Lisa Heggum, senior collections specialist of youth materials at the TPL. “That’s not what library’s are like today. They’re more like community centres.”

Heggum and her team worked with the Toronto record store Soundscapes, music newspaper Exclaim! and Polaris Prize founder Steve Jordan to come up with an eclectic mix of performers. Thursday night’s show at the College and Shaw branch featured Winnipeg rapper Grand Analog, while other acts such as Timber Timbre, Bruce Peninsula and Katie Stelmanis play over the next two weeks at different locations.

Odario Williams, Grand Analog’s frontman, says it’s a bit strange to play among the stacks of books.

“This time I don’t have to listen to the ‘shhh,’” he says. “I’m allowed to turn up the bass and make noise.”

The hip-hop musician, who released Metropolis is Burning in May, reveals that just because he’s playing in a library doesn’t mean he’s going acoustic.

“I hope the walls will be able to sustain themselves,” he says, chuckling.

Williams thinks the Make Some Noise series is just what the city needs. Libraries have always been a gathering place for the community, he says, and music is just as important to culture and thought as books.

But while he’s excited to play, what really sold him on the gig was the DJ workshop he’s leading on Tuesday. He’ll teach Torontonians how to play the turntables and take questions on rap, the music industry, DJing technology and anything else.

“I’ll be ready for any and all questions people may have about DJing,” he says. “Hopefully, we can get a good discussion going.”

In the end, Heggum hopes people learn a thing or two about Canadian music, but she also wants everyone to remember that the library has a healthy CD collection full of independent Canuck acts.

“We’re trying to make music available to the public in the same way we do with books on the shelves,” Heggum explains. “We also want to connect people who are interested in music with people involved in it. Especially young people.”

Williams is hoping some of those people will even take out his latest disc from the library.

“Grand Analog will be borrowed for a month,” he jokes. “You know when you go to the library and you’re just waiting for a book to come back and some guy still has it and you want to call him and tell him to return it? That’s what’ll happen with my music.”

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