By the time it reopens on Thursday, Sept. 17, the Stanley A. Milner Library — the cornerstone of the Edmonton Public Library system — will have been closed for exactly 963 months. Of course, 920 of those months were part of the great pandemic shutdown of 2020. (That's how it felt).
If you recalculated it to take that into account, the downtown library will have been closed to the public for no less than 43.5 months.
That's a long time to be without my Stanley.
Stanley and I have a history, you know.
I moved to Edmonton in September of 2015, brand new to the city, and alone. My husband, son and dog were still out East and would be for the next eight weeks, while I broke trail, set up house, figured out how to choose a gas company and found out where everything was.
I knew almost no one in the city. A couple of old Winnipeg friends were here, and an old writer friend. They were not "friends" at the time — not like they would become — but rather folks I knew from other cities. Edmonton was a cipher to me, further north than I'd ever lived, substantially quieter than the New York City I was coming from, but bigger than hometown Winnipeg, and certainly bigger than Little Current, Ontario. Substantially hipper than those last two places as well, what with the festivals and the Fringe and that flashy river valley.
We had found a house online and rented sight-unseen. Thank goodness it was lovely. It was downtown.
Once I got the utilities-internet-phone-driver's license-grocery store-liquor store-shoe store figured out, I was ready for more. At least for eight weeks.
As I had with many of the other cities and towns I had lived in throughout my long and checkered life, I sought out a familiar, useful and soothing old friend: I sought out my local library. It didn't take long to find you, Stanley.
I happened to be downtown. I was wearing new sandals. They were apparently sitting-down sandals. I could see from the mall a kind of park or square and I headed for it. As it opened up, there I saw him.
Stanley. The Stanley A. Milner Library. I want to add "Esq" there, but I won't.
From the minute I walked through those doors, I knew I'd come home.
For the next eight weeks I had a back up for long, lonely days. I could have a book and taco from the truck. Hang out. Be a part of the city.
It was from Stanley that I borrowed Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling. Oh how we laughed!
And Stanley also lent me A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Oh how we cried!
Stanley always got the newspaper, so I knew what was going on in the world.
Stanley did everything.
Eventually husband, son and dog arrived and we settled into Edmonton and for a while everything was just perfect. I had it all.
Then he closed. A year and a half after we'd arrived, the library closed!
Oh sure, we made friends with other libraries, I did a kind of library "tour," where I just went randomly to other libraries, feeling all the while like I was cheating — but hey I didn't close, Stanley closed.
I never forgot about you, Stanley.
So. Here. We. Are. Well, well, well. You're back.
I could play it cool.
But I won't.
Stanley, you had me at Grand Opening.
Join us in celebrating the grand opening of the Stanley A. Milner Library by checking out our virtual open house on Sunday, Sept. 13 or attend our grand opening celebration on Thursday, Sept. 17 to Sunday, Sept. 20 by booking your time slot for you and three family members or friends to tour the beautiful and bright Stanley.