Toronto Public Library Homepage

This page has been archived and is no longer updated.

Former Innovator In Residence Sarah Goodman’s New Film Screens at TIFF

May 21, 2015 | Ab. Velasco | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Filmmaker and former Innovator in Residence Sarah Goodman’s debut feature film, Porch Stories, will screen at the TIFF Bell Lightbox from June 19 to 25.

The film is a layered and musically-rich portrait of revolving stories – all connected by events on the porches of neighbouring homes.

“I used to spend a lot of time sitting on my porch, writing, and watching the world go by. Often people would walk past, and I’d hear a little snippet of their conversation, a little window into their world. Then they were gone, " says Sarah.

"I started to think of all the stories that must have happened on the porches on my block. All the romances, fights, misunderstandings, childish arguments, drunken conversations, hipster small talk, and Portuguese commentary that gave the neighbourhood its fabric."

Sarah completed a residency at Toronto Reference Library’s Digital Innovation Hub in Fall 2014, where she delivered a series of talks, workshops, and met on a one-on-one basis with aspiring and practicing filmmakers.

“My favourite aspect of my residency was the diversity and talent of the people who attended. It felt representative of this city in a way few programs do,” Sarah said of her experience in this post-residency Q+A.


Meet Sarah Goodman and Share Your “Porch Stories”

Do you have a favourite personal story about Toronto or your neighbourhood?

Drop by the Digital Innovation Hub at the Reference Library in early June and meet Sarah in person!

Sarah will be filming one-on-one interviews and your video may be featured on the Porch Stories website.

“Porch Stories is a film about everyday lives of people on one block in a neighbourhood in Toronto, and so it's in the spirit of the film to get a wide array of stories beyond those in the film, that continue to reflect the diversity of the city, and the library's patrons really reflect that diversity,” says Sarah.

For those who are camera shy, Sarah will also collect short written anecdotes if you'd prefer to share your story that way. You can dictate it to her in person or email her at

We hope you will stop by. There will be lemonade!

Appearance dates

  • Mon. June 1, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Thurs. June 4, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Mon. June 8, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Wed. June 10, 6 to 8 p.m.


Library Screening & Q&A for Porch Stories

Stay tuned for details about an upcoming Porch Stories screening and Q+A event with Sarah Goodman at the Reference Library this summer.


Sarah Goodman Video Editing 101 workshop
Sarah Goodman delivers a workshop during her residency at Toronto Reference Library in Fall 2014.

3D Print a Souvenir Inspired by TCAF 2015

May 6, 2015 | Ab. Velasco | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...


In celebration of the 2015 Toronto Comic Arts Festival taking place May 9 and 10 at Toronto Reference Library, Digital Innovation Hub staff member Alex Dimitrov has once again created fun 3D design objects inspired by this year's TCAF poster by acclaimed Japanese comics illustrator Gurihiru.

You can now download the instructions for the three different 3D objects from the Hub's Thingiverse page - or by clicking the links below - and then print these files using the Hub's 3D printer.

Alex - pictured above - used ZBrush, a professional-level 3D design software, and a Wacom Intous Touch graphic tablet to create his designs. You can also use the tablet and software at the Reference Library Hub. Here's more info or please speak to staff for details.

Alex will also do 3D design demos at the Digital Innovation Hub during TCAF Day 1 on May 9. So please drop by and say hello!

Want more? Check out Alex's 3D design project from TCAF 2014.



Download the 3D Objects


Download 3D Object Pictured Above



Download 3D Object Pictured Above



Download 3D Object Pictured Above

3D Printing and Design for Kids

April 30, 2015 | Nalini | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Being savvy with technology is a key characteristic of the newest generation of kids - more often than not they are seen playing with tablets, smartphones, or some other electronic device. But this isn't always a negative trait. Technology can offer kids a new way to play, and also to learn. Recently, CBC Parents referred to 3D printing as one of the emerging technologies most likely to be used by kids in the not so distant future. It provides a wonderful learning opportunity to show kids that the creative or practical designs they construct by using a computer can be made into real, three-dimensional, solid objects. Why hunt for that elusive toy in a store, when your child can design, print, and play with something they created on their own!

Just in case I haven't yet convinced you that 3D printing is also for kids, check out this video of our past Innovator in Residence, 3D printing expert Derek Quenneville, speaking to TVO Parents about kids and 3D printing.


To help kids learn more about this new technology, Fort York Branch is hosting a club for children 8 and up. Over the course of four weeks in June, they will learn how the MakerBot 3D printer works, and will have the opportunity to design objects using different 3D Design software platforms. Each week will focus on a different learning tool and may include TinkercadTinkerplay, and 123D Sculpt+.

Derek teaching a 3D Print classDerek Quenneville, an expert in 3D printing, leads a workshop for kids during the summer of 2014.

This 3D printing and Design Club will meet every Wednesday during June (June 3, 10, 17, and 24) at 5:15 pm. This program is free! But due to limited space, registration is required. Registration begins Monday, May 4th, by phone at 416-393-6240 or in person at the Fort York Branch, and is open to kids 8 and up. 

Can't make it to Fort York Branch? Check out other branches in your area with maker programs

If your child is not able to make it to our club, try one of these books to help him/her learn about this new technology:

3D Printing with Autodesk    LEO the maker prince    3D Printing

Make. Play. Learn. Connect. Share.

Apogee Quartet - Sound Mixer

April 29, 2015 | Greg Astill | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

If you’re interested in experimenting with audio production and mixing, come down to the Hub at the Toronto Reference Library and learn the tricks of the trade with some handy devices. For example, the Apogee Quartet serves as a mixer and allows users to come in and record vocals or plug in their instruments with the aim of recording at studio quality.

Quartet mac logic
Image Courtesy of Apogee

Apogee Quartet is a professional audio interface connecting to Apple computers via USB. The company Apogee has been instrumental in creating technology and setting standards in professional recording over the last 25 years. 

With the single controller knob design and a simple tap on the touchpad you can select your desired input or output and precisely dial in your level. This ultimate desktop recording experience can be easily plugged into an iPad to take your recording studio on the road with you.

The Quartet can handle a combination of up to four different analog inputs via an XLR and 1/4” cord, for connecting microphones, guitars and keyboards. In addition, the Quartet also includes eight channels of digital input via two optical connections (ADAT/SMUX) for connecting an additional analog-to-digital converter such as Apogee’s Ensemble.

Recording Music

Check out Apogee's YouTube channel where they've posted a nice selection of videos that showcase the Quartet and other products that make recording a lot easier and more mobile. 

This equipment is now available for use at the Toronto Reference Library’s Digital Innovation Hub, free with a valid library card. Also check out some of these great books to learn more about the trade.

Practical recording techniques : the step-by-step approach to professional audio recording

The science of sound recording

Audio engineering 101 : a beginner's guide to music production

In addition, check out the recording studio at the Fort York Innovation Hub. There they have a bookable room that can be used as an amateur studio. The Media Lab is currently not sound treated and can be booked for up to two hours per day.

Have fun!!

Lights, Camera, Action! - Recording Studio Space at the Library

April 21, 2015 | Nalini | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Are you looking for a space that you can use to practice your photography, filmmaking, or music skills? The Fort York Branch has a bookable room that can be used as an amateur photography and recording studio. The Media Lab, as part of the Digital Innovation Hub,  is an enclosed space that can be booked for up to two hours per day, free with a valid library card.

Posing for the Camera

Bring in your own equipment, or use something from the Digital Innovation Hub. We have a green screen and lighting kit, cameras, microphones, mixing boards, a keyboard, an electric drum kit, DJ equipment, and an Abelton Push controller. Please note that this room is currently not sound treated.

Recording Music

Contact the Fort York Branch directly for more information, or to book a time to use the Media Lab at 416-393-6240. Media Lab bookings are only available up to one week in advance with a library card.

Make. Play. Learn. Share. Connect. 

Paul Hillier Shares Tips and Tricks of Cosplay Photography

April 15, 2015 | Ab. Velasco | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Transformers Cosplay
Transformers Cosplay (Photo: Paul Hillier)

On Saturday, April 25, the Digital Innovation Hub at Toronto Reference Library is partnering with Anime North to host the Anime Bash, a fun afternoon of cosplay, film screening, and anime-related games.

Cosplay refers to a form of costume party and performance art, where the costumes are inspired by manga, anime, comics, cartoons, video games and films. Cosplayers are individuals who partake in the dress up and ensuing performance.

At the Bash, Toronto-based photographer Paul Hillier will also deliver a talk about cosplay photography. Paul’s work has been featured in the media, including Popular Photography’s Photo Manual, Maclean’s, Cracked, Geek x Girls, and Comics Alliance.

In this Q+A, Paul shares how he got into cosplay photography, his advice for aspiring photographers, and whose cosplay and photography works inspire him.

How did you get into cosplay photography?

It was really organic. I've always been into photography and I've always been a nerd. I'd go to conventions for the artist and maybe take a couple of snapshots of some cosplayers.

I don't know how, but over time I went from “Can I take your picture?” to asking them to maybe step into the light, to “Hey, do you have 15 minutes to do a shoot?” to scheduling shoots months in advance. 

What have been your favourite cosplay photo shoots and why?

That's a hard one.  That's like asking a mother to choose their favorite kid. I'm also of the mindset that you can find something excellent in every situation. But in general, I love just bringing epically talented people together in beautiful locations: Dundas Square; the Scarborough Bluffs; hell, even in my kitchen.

Maleficent Cosplay
Maleficent Cosplay (Photo: Paul Hillier)

You've done a lot of photography work – including for media publications and special events like weddings. How does cosplay photography differ from other works you’ve done?

It's different in the way that I do it for the love of doing it. I don't make any kind of real money in cosplay. I do it because I'm a huge nerd and I love the idea of bridging the gap between anime and comic art with real life. In fact, I find that cosplay photography borrows from wedding, fashion and architectural photography very much.

For those who want to get into cosplay photography, what are your Top 3 tips and tricks?

#1 - Don't make your bad day someone else's bad day. It may not be specific to cosplay but it's probably some of the best advice I've heard and can be applied to everything including cosplay. By its nature, you have to work with other people. They are more important than even your final work. It’s important that everyone on your set feels safe, comfortable and respected.

#2 - Be aware of your environment. Know how to use it or how "not" to use it. Especially know where the light is coming from.

3. With "Photoshop," just because you can, doesn't mean that you should. Sometimes, less is more.  I have been known to be super guilty of this in the past.

Which cosplayers and cosplay photographers do you admire the most and why?

There are so many talented members of the local scene that it wouldn't be fair for me to start, I'd have no idea when to finish. Off the top of my head for people outside of the local scene:

  • Zhang Jingna - Not really a cosplay photograher though she has done some. I love how her work borrows a lot from painting. It feels very soft and feminine.
  • Jay Tablante - I just love this dude’s work. I don't know where he finds the time to do all the in-depth post work but he really does love combining photography and fantasy comic art feel.
  • Nikita Cosplay - Her Kei Yuki is incredibly on point! 
  • Angela Bermúdez - She has a very cinema style to her posing, as well as some of the best armour design I have ever seen.
Ryu Cosplay
Ryu Cosplay (Photo: Paul Hillier)

MaKey MaKey

April 14, 2015 | Greg Astill | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

MaKey MaKey kits are a great way to learn more about electronics through interacting with everyday objects. Take a couple of bananas and turn them into keys for a piano or keyboard. Draw your own game controller in pencil and play a game of Pac Man. 

Image courtesy of

The idea behind this great kit is to encourage experimentation and to help people invent. The kits are simple by design: they consist of a MaKey MaKey board, a series of alligator clips and a USB cable for power. The setup takes just a few seconds and with no programming knowledge needed. Users can start to experiment and build immediately.

Any material that can conduct a small amount of electricity can be used. Below are some examples of what you might want to use: ketchup, pencil graphite, apples, lemons, oranges, bananas, coins, aluminum foil, silverware, people and Play-Doh to name a few.

Connecting MaKey MaKey

A great deal of exercises and training templates can be found on the Makey Makey website and additional resources can be easily tracked down all over the web, including great video tutorials on Youtube and Vimeo.

The Makey Makey webpage also offers a gallery of users’ projects made with the kits.

One of my favourite projects is the Cat Bowl Photo Booth. The project works using a conductive pad, in this case silver foil. Set it up with a bowl of water and every time the cat goes for a drink, your laptop camera snaps a photo.

No special software is needed for installation and it works with Mac, Windows and Linux. The kits are great for everyone, young and old, as well as anyone who considers themselves an artist, engineer, designer, inventor or maker.

Connecting to banana, orange and a coin


Come down and check it out and be sure to bring a few bananas with you.
Have fun!!

Please note:

Fort York library will be hosting a great program called:  Play With... Music!

The session is on Sat Jul 25, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Class Description:
Make music with our Makey Makey kits. Possible projects include musical stairs, a water piano, and maybe even a banana piano!

For kids 8-12 years of age. Registration information to be announced.

Click here for more details.

Video Game Programming with Scratch

April 1, 2015 | Nalini | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Last week the Fort York Branch's Builders' Club, an after school club for builders, designers, creators and innovators who want to learn new skills and explore new technologies began their adventures into the land of video game design with Scratch.

Scratch is a free, web-based, visual programming platform created by MIT, and is perfect for introducing the concept of computer programming to children. Scratch allows children (and adults!) to create video games of various levels of difficulty. The 2D drag and drop environment is easy for kids to manipulate, but it can also include computer programming concepts like loops, events, and objects as well as mathematical concepts like values, decimals, and variables. As a result, games can be as simple as a maze, and as complex as a game of basketball between a monkey and a turtle!

Head over to the Scratch Website to play some of the games created by users all over the world. Or check out this sample game, Monkey Tag, by Wendy, our Lead Instructor for this program. Instructions for this two player game are available here.

Scratch is really easy to learn at home too, so try one of these print books to get you started:


Getting to konw Scratch 

 Scratch Programming in easy steps

Learn to program with Scratch

Getting to know Scratch

Scratch programming in easy steps

or one of these electronic resources available from the library:

 Building Games with Scratch 2.0

Sams teach yourself Scrtch 2.0 in 24 hours 

Super scratch programming adventure 

Building Games with Scratch 2.0

Sams teach yourself Scratch 2.0 in 24 hours

Super Scratch programming adventure!

Fort York Library's Video Game Programming with Scratch program is full, and we're no longer taking any new participants, but we'll be offering this program again in the fall. In the meantime, check out some of the other Maker programs at the library.

VHS Conversion

March 13, 2015 | Greg Astill | Comments (8) Facebook Twitter More...

Have you ever wanted to take a look at those old VHS tapes collecting dust? Maybe take some old home movies and preserve them for future generations to see? Maybe take a collection of them with the idea of editing and restoring them for a celebration? The Digital Innovation Hub at the Toronto Reference Library is happy to report that anyone can now do this thanks to some great resources in the space. Bring in any old VHS tape and use one of two digitizing tools that are available to capture your old videos.

The first device is the Diamond One Touch Video Capture. This device allows you to capture videos with the touch of a button. The One Touch Video Capture records video and audio from almost any device. Capture content from VCRs, camcorders, DVD players, or any device supporting video output through a S-Video or composite RCA connection.

Diamond OneTouch Video Capture
Image Courtesy of Diamond One Touch Video Capture

The other device is a much higher end video capturing tool named Black Magic Intensity Shuttle. The Shuttle is an HD/SD video capture/playback device that supports USB 3.0, and allows you to capture 10-bit HDMI or analog video directly from a camera or tape player. Use it for editing or for playback to watch old footage you haven’t seen in a very long time. 

Black Magic Intensity Shuttle
Image Courtesy of Blackmagic Shuttle

It’s compatible with many of the video editing applications such as iMovie, Final Cut Pro, After Effects and Premiere. 

At the moment the Hub only has a VHS player and can only facilitate the conversion from that format.  But in instances where your footage is filmed on a different format, be sure to bring the camcorder in that it was shot on for the sole purpose of playback. 

VHS to DVD at Digital Innovation Hub
VCR Setup at the Digital Innovation Hub at Toronto Reference Library

Both systems are flexible and give the user options for resolution and a wide range of file formats. More importantly once your footage is digitized, you can easily convert it, edit and export it to any format you like. Maybe use one of the film editing software applications such as iMovie to cut it down and add music and photos to tell a story.

Have fun!!

Showcasing Video Games Made at the Library

February 2, 2015 | Ab. Velasco | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

 The Floor is Lava by Archie Wisco

Video Game Screen Capture

Last fall, the Digital Innovation Hub at Toronto Reference Library was thrilled to host the 12-week Game Curious program presented with The Hand Eye Society.

During the latter half of the program, 10 participants took part in a 6-week workshop where they were mentored by industry experts on how to create video games. By the end of the workshops, a few participants even had a video game created.

In late January, a few participants returned to the Reference Library to showcase their video game creations.

Avid video game hobbyist Archie Wisco was one of the workshop participants. In his game The Floor is Lava, you have to guide the character to the room's exit by jumping over all the furniture - before the rising lava catches up to you.

"I was inspired by child-like play," says Wisco. "The public library environment led me to think in terms of family-oriented accessibility...I enjoyed the (workshop) experience immensely. I was originally on the waiting list if any chosen participants dropped out, so I highly valued the time I spent in the program."

Abhilasha Dewan and Kai Reimer-Watts partnered to create Skyshapers, a game where you played as Sky, an injured albatross on an important mission to help reduce the rising smog that is changing the climate & threatening life on Earth.

The original concept for the game was developed by Reimer-Watts last summer at Startup Weekend Waterloo, supported by Google for Entrepreneurs as part of the thesis for his Masters in Climate Change. With a background in the arts, he came up with the concept of SkyShapers as a tool for starting a conversation about climate issues amongst a broader audience.

The Game Curious program was a positive experience for the pair. "It was really great!" says Dewan. "The energy in the group was always inspiring. The workshop itself was well structured to help see the projects to completion. Big thank you to all the volunteers for consistent de-bugging help and great feedback."

The Hub hopes to offer more gaming-related programs in the near future. In the meantime, you can check out library of books on video game programming and video game design. Happy Gaming!

SkyShapers by Abhilasha Dewan & Kai Reimer-Watts
Video Game Screen Capture

Welcome to The Innovation Hubs blog. Highlighting the features, programs and customer innovation stories from our Digital Innovation Hubs.