Michael D. Toman became an Adult Services Librarian in 1995 for the South Pasadena Public Library. He was doing work he loved in his adopted city: Working up lists of books for the library to buy, helping members of the public find books they sought, and also suggesting books they might like but didn’t know about. Bringing readers and books together brought him special satisfaction. His breadth of knowledge spanned many interests, only some of which were classical literature, genre literature, cinema, opera, and blues. These subjects and others gave him a solid background in helping library patrons with their diverse interests.
Michael was also the published author of a modest number of short stories in the science fiction and fantasy genres, several of which also appeared in translation in France and Germany. He always took great pleasure in helping writer friends any way he could. Sometimes he would make sure someone knew about a potential market; many times he would write to libraries to recommend they buy certain books. He also wrote to strangers with compliments and suggestions. All his life, he found ways to promote fiction by friends and strangers. Locally, he enjoyed taking part in various civic events and would ask people he engaged in conversation if they had a library card. If not, he would explain how to get one. Michael had a good-natured sense of humor and many lifelong friends – including many authors and poets among them.
“Besides being the most helpful of librarians, Michael was a writer and a fan of writers,” said South Pasadena Poet Laureate, Ron Koertge. “For years he forwarded a poem-a-day from “The Paris Review”, and went with Bianca and me to poetry readings all over town. He was a particular fan of my work and of Kim Dower’s also. He urged me to send poems to magazines he subscribed to, and that’s how some of my work ended up in “Fantasy and Science Fiction.” I returned the favor by introducing him to thoroughbred racing and we spent more than a few pleasant afternoons at Santa Anita. He was generoud, discerning, witty, and fun to be with. A friend not soon forgotten.”
“Michael was extremely erudite and impressively knowledgeable in a wide variety of subject areas including classic cinema, science fiction, and contemporary literature,” said former South Pasadena Library Director, Steve Fjeldsted. “He clearly loved selecting new materials for the library collection and recommending them to others. His generous nature also led him to donate many of his own books to appropriate recipients. Michael also had a wry, good-natured sense of humor and would often offhandedly spin a charming yarn about any number of authors he knew, books he’d enjoyed, or Dodgers games he’d attended. Michael Toman generously shared his gentle, bright personality and the community was definitely enriched by his presence.”