Blind Librarian Wants to Help Our Blinded Soldiers
Excerpts from an article from the Women’s section of the Star Weekly, Oct. 16, 1915, titled “Blind Librarian Wants to Help Our Blinded Soldiers.” It’s written by a columnist called “La Cerise.”
….Most of the blind people have been taught to read by some system, but what is the use of this knowledge if books are not provided for them to read? Books for the blind, because of the great care necessary in their making are quite expensive, and unkind circumstances often would not allow the blind searcher after knowledge to buy the volume he wants. Just to fill this very want and make it possible for every blind person to know the blessed road to happiness opened for them through books, the Canadian Free Library for the Blind was established in 1907. Toronto should feel a real thrill of pride that this, the only library of its kind in Canada, is to be found within her gates, and yet I don’t suppose one-half of her citizens ever knew of its existence, much less the splendid work it is doing.
Away up in West Toronto (on the corner of Medland and Annette streets, to be exact), in the Public Library building, two large, sunny rooms have been given, entirely free in every way, by the Public Library , and here every day except Saturday afternoon, Mr. Swift, whose heart is simply bound up in the work, and his two assistants work busily to send to all parts of the Dominion the volumes which the eager blind folk ask for. Of course, there is a small circulating library in connection with the school in Brantford, but it is solely for the Ontario blind and has only 183 names on its list, while the Canadian Free Library has 416 members on its list, and every member is an active one, freely using the library for any kind of information he needs. Just what this institution must mean to those eager minds, feeling their way independently into all the wonders of science, the romance of history, and the lighter realms of travel and romance, is really beyond the power of pen to portray. But Mr. Swift knows well and sympathetically just how it is appreciated, for, though himself denied the light of day, this wonderfully clever young man is a M.A., a graduate of McGill University, and, best of all, he is devoting all his time and talents that the sunshine of hope and knowledge may enter the darkened world of the blind.
… Now, Mr. Swift wants to get into touch with those brave soldiers who have given their country their dearest possession, their eyesight, that he may give them fresh courage, yes, and a fresh start in life, by teaching them both to read and use the typewriter. With a worthy aim like that in view, should not this library for the blind receive the help and affection of Toronto as a whole? But, if you do wish to help the blind, just remember that this institution is the only bona fide work for the blind in Toronto and positively employs no collectors, so—just see that your little finds its way to the right spot!