City mourns passing of Eleanor London

Eleanor London reading to kids

The City of Côte Saint-Luc is saddened by the loss of Eleanor London, the city’s founding library director, whose unique vision lives on to this day.

“When I moved to Cote Saint-luc at the age of 4, one of the first things my mom did was take me to the library where Eleanor would read books to us kids during story time,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “In 1990, when I was first elected to Council, our relationship grew as Eleanor would tirelessly ensure her library remained the best. During the last couple of years as her health was failing we stayed in touch by phone and her love for the library was always foremost in her heart. Her love for community and excellence in customer service is a legacy that continues to shine and will remain for always, thanks to all she has done for our city. She will be dearly missed.”

Before the municipal mergers of 2000, the city named re-named library to honour London.

“Eleanor London was a visionary and when she was tasked with building the library in 1966, set about to create a place where people would feel good, enriched and stimulated,” said Janine West, the current director of the library and one of many librarians London hired over the years. “She ingrained in her staff that people must feel welcome and that the library must be easily accessible and part of one’s everyday routine.”

The original location for the library was above the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre. For London, it was a calculated and deliberate choice. She understood that being near the shops that one frequented could create an easy and regular library routine for most people.

City Manager Tanya Abramovitch started her career as a librarian. She remembers her first meeting with London.

“Eleanor said to me, ‘You're hired. What job do you want?’,” Abramovitch said. “Those were pretty much the first words Eleanor London spoke to me at my interview at the library in 2001. I knew then that this was definitely a unique place. She made Côte Saint-Luc a library town and endlessly lobbied for resources to to ensure the library’s great reputation. She served the community in which she worked with a whole heart, and made a lasting difference to them. Eleanor was a visionary.”

Councillor Mike Cohen, who today is the council member responsible for the library, says he has fond memories of London going back to childhood.

“I was four years old when the first library was established on the second floor of the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre,” Councillor Cohen said. “ She was the visionary behind the library we see today, open seven days a week and the envy of every other municipality in Quebec.”

A book of condolence has been placed at the library for the public to sign.

Eleanor London in her own words

"[The library] is a place where people feel good, where they are enriched intellectually and emotionally; an open, cozy, beautiful place to enjoy reading and being stimulated. Most libraries are rigidly institutional, boring; plastic building whose very purpose is the opposite. They are built and run not for the people, their availability, their needs, their feelings and dreams." - Eleanor London, 1987.

"If you know what a good library is you can't go through a day without it.  A good library helps you with your life." - Eleanor London, 1987.

"I had this fantasy that people would walk into our library in a bad mood and walk out smiling." - Eleanor London, 1987.

"Because we want to be more than a library.  We're a community centre, a cultural centre, a place for people to hang out." - Eleanor London, 1987.

"I would like to remembered for creating from scratch a great library that people adore."  - Eleanor London, 2006.

The advice I have for the future generations of librarians is: focus on your customers. They are your raison d'être. When it comes to the client, there is no problem too big or too small for you to solved.  Just do it!" - Eleanor London, 2006..

"I wanted a place where people could come and feel at home. They do. When you walk in on a Sunday afternoon and the place is packed with kids lying on the floor, some with their feet up and sitting on top of the shelves, some playing chess, some doing their school projects, some curled up in an armchair reading science fiction, you should know that this is how a library should be." - Eleanor London, 1975.

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