What are Toronto’s most checked-out library books?
What are Toronto’s most checked-out library books? And is it true that our city has one of the busiest systems in the world?—Jack Kuusemäe, Leaside
The Toronto Public Library is the largest and busiest system in North America, with 99 branches and 17 million visitors who check out over 29 million books and other media a year. (By comparison, the New York Public Library has only 85 branches, though some of its boroughs have separate systems.) Belying the media’s hand-wringing over fiction’s demise, last year’s top books were all novels. The Da Vinci Code—mother of all airplane reads—came in at number one, checked out 6,369 times. Next came J.K. Rowling’s fifth Hogwarts instalment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, at 6,359, followed by John Grisham’s The Broker, taken out 5,298 times. Highbrow nationalists needn’t despair. Flourishing the CanLit banner in this parade of pipe-smoking detectives and pubescent wizards were Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness, the fourth-most-popular book (4,903), and several other CanLit worthies, including Alice Munro’s Runaway and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. The other big category in the top 100 is English-as-a-second-language study texts. That’s a clue, young Potter, to why the library—which actively develops collections in 41 different languages—does such boffo numbers in a multicultural city like Toronto.