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International Literacy Day

September 8, 2016 | Rachelle | Comments (3)

Today marks the 50th International Literacy Day! How will you be celebrating? Perhaps it is more of a plan than a celebration for you. Whether you are an avid reader or someone who reads on a "need to know" basis, now is a good time to make some resolutions. Today can be the January 1st of literacy! A time to make some changes or set some goals. Lately my son and I have been reading a few pages of The BFG each night. No doubt he became intrigued after the movie was released last July. Normally I do all of the reading but I thought that it would be a nice change for us to take turns reading. Maybe you can try out some new reading tips or perhaps you can attend a new event at the library. From family storytimes to movie nights to book clubs, the library has something for everyone. 

  8 and a half 400-Blows Lifeasadog

If a cozy night in is more to your liking, you can stream a classic film or documentary through our Criterion Collection. As for me? Well I have marked my calendar to attend The BFG puppet show at Runnymede branch on Oct 15. My son and I should be finished the book by then!

If you know someone who would like help improving their reading, writing or math skills, the library offers one-on-one tutoring for adults 16 or older.


Learning at Any Age

August 26, 2016 | Chantel | Comments (0)

I remember the first day of school like it happened yesterday. My mom waving and smiling as I walked through the doors. Me with my hands clenching the lunch box tightly, while thinking how afraid I was of this strange place. I didn't know anyone and I couldn't understand what they were saying to me. So many thoughts were going through my mind -- will the teacher be nice, will I meet new friends?  

Fortunately, there are resources to help you and your child prepare for a new school to make the transition easier.

First Day of School

First Day of School

By: Nora Gaydos

A parenting book with a helpful advice section to assist parents in getting their child ready for school on the first day. 




Sumi's first day of school ever Sumi's First Day of School Ever

By: Soyung Pak

A heartfelt story of a Korean-American student starting school in a new country that touches on the possible bad experiences and good experiences of a child's first day. 



Don't forget to check out these "Get Ready for Back to School" and "Your child's first day of school" blogs for more resources and book recommendations!

Splat the Cat Mouse's First Day of School The School

Bear's Big Day Tom and Sofia start school-Chinese Sam's First Day - Tamil

Children are not the only ones who need to prepare for school; adults returning to school might need to as well. If you are an adult thinking about going back to school -- it's never too late! Whether you want to improve your English, brush up on a subject or write an entrance exam, the library has the resources to help you. 

All library branches have an English as a Second Language (ESL) collection which consists of books, CDs and videos that can help newcomers learn the English language. You can also find materials on writing the TOEFL, TOEIC or IELTS exams. If you would like to learn English with other people, several branches offer ESL classes or English Conversation Circle as a way for people to practice speaking. 

For those looking to brush up on a subject or write an exam to get into a program, you can try some of our online resources available to you at home.

Learning Express LibraryThis resource is great for those wanting to go back to school. There are practice tests and exercises on various subjects such as grammar, math and more for high school students as well as for college prep. There are also practice tests for standardized exams such as LSAT, GED, MCAT, TOEFL, iBT and TOEIC. 


Tense BusterAnother great tool to use for improving your English grammar. You can go through practice exercises and tests on different aspects of grammar such as modal verbs, past continuous and prepositions for ESL learners to the more advanced levels. 


If you're like me and like to learn anything and everything, don't forget to check out Toronto District School Board for adult high school classes and community programs held at different locations across Toronto. Of course, another alternative is to attend one of our library programs on topics such as starting a small business or learning basic computer skills and gain knowledge for free!

Now, who says learning is only for the young?





Ukrainian at the Library

August 5, 2016 | Maria | Comments (3)

This week, I sat down with fellow librarian Olena, who moved to Canada from Ukraine. She happily agreed to share her immigration story and offer advice to newcomers.


Olena was born in Kherson, a city in Southern Ukraine. She moved to Canada in 2003 with her husband and six-year-old son. When she first moved to Canada, her home library branch was Mimico Centennial in Etobicoke. Today, Olena works as a librarian at Toronto Public Library’s Albert Campbell Branch.

What was it like moving to Canada?

Olena: Of course there was a lot of excitement. Also relief, because it is a many-years process to get in. So lots of interviews, document scans, screenings and checkups before you get the visa.


Richview Branch

Did you know? Richview branch has a medium-sized Ukrainian collection, with 730 books, 42 movies and videos and 213 music CDs that you can borrow and take home.

Was it scary, moving to a new country?

Olena: No. Not at all. I had big hopes. No fears or concerns. The feeling was great and hasn't changed.

Are you happy in Canada?

Olena: Oh, yes!



Did you know? Runnymede has a medium-sized Ukrainian collection, with 934 books, 29 movies and videos and 111 music CDs that you can borrow and take home.


Did the library play a role when you moved to Canada?

Olena: I loved the library when I came to Canada. Now, of course, the library is my life. It plays a big role because it’s my profession.



Did you know? Toronto Reference Library has a large Ukrainian collection, with 1,294 books that you can borrow and take home, and an additional 2,482 books that you can use in the library.

What’s your favorite thing about the library’s Ukrainian collection?

Olena: That we have Ukrainian folk songs for children and adults at the library. Ukraine is famous for the literature, yes, but Ukraine is also famous for its singers’ talent and its songs.


 Ukraïnsʹki pisni ta romansy MINSKY, Michael Ukrainian Songs Ukraïnsʹki marshi UKRAINE Dumky (45 Folk Songs)     

Did you know? Toronto Public Library has free Ukrainian eMusic that you can listen to online with your library card.


Is there any advice you’d like to give to someone who’s new to Canada?

Olena: The shortest road to success in Canada is language, language, language, which you have to learn, learn, learn.

Unfortunately, even those who come to Canada with seemingly good English still need time to make their English fluent and Canadian. Very often people with strong English language skills learn from books, which is very often not the same thing as how people speak. I was an English teacher back home. I had a strong command of English — reading, writing, speaking, grammar. When I came to Canada, I knew British English. Words like “tram”.  It’s such a small difference, but there are so many local variations. It takes years.

If you’re like me and come to Canada with English learned elsewhere, it’s the skeleton, but you need time to grow flesh on your bones. Worse yet is when you come to Canada without that skeleton.

But you have the library, library, library. It provides a variety of means to learn the language. You’ll always find a book you’ll enjoy. You’ll always find someone to talk to at the library: conversation circles and librarians.


  Library Customers

Did you know? The library can help you learn English, with ESL classes, conversation circles, study guides, books, videos, CDs and online tools. 


How did you learn English?

Olena: I’d find movies that have been translated and available in both languages. I’d also read books in my native language and then retell them to someone in English. Mostly it was my imaginary English-speaking friend.

Naĭkrashchyĭ syshchyk ta padinni͡a  Karpatsʹkyĭ kapkan Taras Bulba The conqueror

Did you know? Toronto Public Library has a wide variety of books, music and movies in Ukrainian?


Do you have any advice on finding work in Canada?

Olena: Finding work is the hardest. I sympathize. My advice? Patience. Persistence. Education.

Forget all your previous experiences and accomplishments. The faster you can accept that you need to start over, that all your past accomplishments were in a different country and that no one knows about them, the better.

At the end of the journey, it’s very rewarding.

Career Books

Did you know? The library has a lot of information to help you find a job in Canada


Do you have any advice on making friends in Canada?

Olena: Seriously, there isn’t much time to make friends. You come here in your 30s or 40s, you have two suitcases, your family and nothing else. First you have to master the language, then go back to university, and only then go back into the professional field. Canada gives means and opportunities, but everything takes time. If you find people along the way, while you are moving ahead in covering these gaps, that’s where you make friends.


If you have any questions or comments for Olena, or would like to ask about the library's Ukrainian collections, please post in the comment section below.

Documenting My Immigration Journey: 纪录我的移民生活

June 25, 2016 | Guikang | Comments (0)

Asian Heritage Month Guest Speaker Juexiao Zheng

On May 7th, educator and Chinese blogger, Juexiao Zheng came to Maria A. Shchuka Branch and delivered a stunning lecture about her life in Toronto, and her writing experience on Wenxuecity, a Chinese-language website and information portal for Chinese expatriates.

Juexiao Zheng


Juexiao is a prolific writer in the blogosphere. She writes her blog almost on daily basis, covering a variety of topics, including her Canadian living experience and current affairs and politics, to name a few. Her reviews of Chinese literature and films are the masterpiece which brought her fame. There are so many followers and die-hard readers around the world. On a personal level, I love her essays on Shanghainese culture, custom and history.

Collage of Juexiao


Juexiao is an active member of my Chinese book club. She wrote many book reviews which we have discussed during our book club sessions. Here are few examples: 

In addition, she also wrote many film reviews:

Juexiao’s lecture was very successful. Her profound understanding of education, unique insights on Canadian society and life resonated very well among the audience members, some of them drove as far as from the town of Markham, to meet her in person. 

Audience Members

The following section is a summary of the event, which Juexiao posted in Wenxuecity: Juexiao’s post @ Wenxuecity





陆续进来的有女读者,有夫妻,有母女,老妈妈也是头发花白了,八十多岁了。我不安写好的演讲稿讲,我不能对着老太太谈“Still water runs deep”?静水深流文绉绉的词语,我讲自己的移民之路,选择,工作之得失。 说得是大实话,包括有些遇见的问题,我没有写到博客里的。





我很喜欢他们,普普通通和我一样生活在多伦多。如果用人数来衡量,那可以说不成功,但是,如果用气氛来衡量,没有比敞开心扉的交流更让人舒服的事情。 西安的老妈妈要离开时,我送她到图书馆门口,她女儿来接。我替她开门时,她不停说八个字,我并不完全领会是说给我的,因为最后两个词是”伟大“,我以为她说白求恩或刘胡兰。她说说得好,又重复那八个字,我一下子明白是她对我而言,但我被”伟大“两个字吓着了,前面的六个字模糊了,到了晚上我绞尽脑汁想,大约是“事情虽小,工作伟大”。(我想有时真有必要记录,简单的句子过了几个小时都记不清。)


我和留下的读者合影了。可是龄爸被挤到边上了,他最近玩深沉留小胡子。我穿今年唯一买的烟灰色新衣裙,戴着我的“A GREEN DAY”。龄妈一袭青烟似的,努力保持着文艺腔。




Library Settlement Partnerships and Summer Settlement Services

June 23, 2016 | Patty | Comments (0)

LSP Services

Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in North America and Toronto Public Library does its part to welcome newcomers. One example is the free Library Settlement Partnerships (LSP)  program. It offers year round direct help from settlement workers, as well as settlement-related programs, in selected library branches across the city: 






Flemingdon Park

Lillian H. Smith       





Parliament Street



Toronto Reference Library   

York Woods (until June 30th)

LSP Logo    IRCC


LSP is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and partners with the following local Settlement Agencies:

Catholic Crosscultural Services

Centre for Immigrant and Community Services

CultureLink Settlement & Community Services

Kababayan Multicultural Centre

Rexdale Women's Centre

Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office

YMCA Newcomer Information Centre


For more information about the LSP program, you can check out the Settling in Toronto page and the New to Canada Blog.


LSP Service

Summer is a time to enjoy some family fun at the library. While visiting the library, you will find additional summer settlement help. Settlement workers are available at more Toronto Public Library locations through the Settlement and Education Partnerships in Toronto (SEPT) program. There are 13 locations offering the SEPT program this summer:

Barbara Frum

Black Creek

Burrows Hall

Deer Park



Goldhawk Park



Maria A. Shchuka

McGregor Park



York Woods

If you are new to Canada and have questions about settling in Toronto, there will be 26 Toronto library locations offering settlement services this summer.

Portuguese | Português at Your Library!

June 10, 2016 | Chantel | Comments (2)

Olá! Did you know that 113,000 people in Toronto speak Portuguese according to the 2006 Census? If you didn't know, don't worry! Just visit any one of our eight branches to find Portuguese materials to help accelerate your knowledge of Portuguese language and culture! From books, magazines, music to the latest movies, you can find your favourite pick!

With Portuguese Week running from May 13 to June 26, why not prepare yourself for the different celebrations and events taking place across the city with some of these books on culture and history?

Everything Brazilian Portuguese  A travellers history of Portugal  CultureShock  Portugueses in Canada  The Portuguese in Canada

Of course, we must not miss the tasty Portuguese cuisine (one of my favourite is the yummy Portuguese custard tarts! Cook up a storm with these books!

Authentic Portuguese cooking My PortugalRecipes from my Portuguese kitchen Masterchef livro de cozinha

If you're like me and cooking is not your forte, enjoy some music or movie instead. You can also pick up some Portuguese along the way - Fado anyone? Don't forget to check out our online resources such as Naxos Music and OverDrive for more movies, music and books!

Desfado Legends of fadoFado - Santos Queen of Fado
 A wolf at the door Os Inquilino Tabu Mutum

I'm currently on an international author faze where I'm trying to read popular or acclaimed translated works of fiction. One that I've enjoyed is a novel by José Saramago titled "Blindness" where people living in a city are suddenly inflicted with blindness. Authorities quarantine the blind in an institution in attempts to isolate the affected. However, the epidemic continues to spread in the city and the issues of morals, violence, survival and human nature arise in a society that is breaking down. There is also a movie adaption of this novel. If you are feeling adventurous, try some of these novels (some are available in English)! 
Tenda Dos Milagres      Explicação dos pássaros      Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira     Jerusalem
Tent of Miracles   Explanation of Birds       Blindness            

Reggae Heritage: Explore Eglinton Avenue West!

June 2, 2016 | Barbara | Comments (0)

Reggae Lane sign edit

The rich local Jamaican music history along Eglinton was showcased during a recent Jane’s Walk. On May 7th, in keeping with the spirit of urban activist Jane Jacobs, I led 40 citizens around the neighbourhood that grew into the remarkable home to Jamaican immigrant record and clothing shops, barbers, salons, restaurants, recording studios and meeting places.
As Jamaicans immigrated to and visited Toronto, “they didn’t just bring their bodies,” as Mr. Arnold Rowe, vice president of the local York Business Improvement Association explained. They brought their music, food, and culture with them.

The tour began at the Maria A. Shchuka branch with an introduction to the library’s online Research Guide to Reggae Lane: Toronto's Jamaican Music Scene, 1960s to the Present. We then watched a short film about Jimmy Wisdom, the Jamaican Ambassador for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

It was great to then go visit Jimmy at his barber shop across the street. The tour continued on with a walk down to Treajah Isle Records shop to visit Chozen and Natty B., who stock music, culture and health Caribbean and Rastafari products.

Mr. Rowe explained the Jamaican and Caribbean history of the area in the BIA office. Then we paraded to the magnificent Reggae Lane mural that honours reggae artists both from the area and Jamaica. Poet Inspirator, Simeon, treated the walk participants with a poem he wrote for this Jane’s Walk. And then he thrilled us with his band by playing some chilling reggae music. (Check out TPL's collection of reggae CDs.)

Poet Inspirator Simeon and his reggae band in front of the Reggae Lane mural

And what better way to bring the walk to an end than with some delicious Jamaican beef patties, generously donated by Randy's Patties and the York Business Improvement Association.


Have some time this weekend? Why not enjoy some of the free programs that the city has to offer? Check out walking tour "Transforming Reggae Lane" as part of Doors Open Toronto 2016. This is a great for you to get an inside peak in some of the most unique buildings in the city.

Interested in art? The TD Gallery at Toronto Reference Library has a new exhibit on until July 23.

Urdu |اُردُو at Your Library!

May 20, 2016 | Chantel | Comments (0)

Urdu Display
Are you looking to get the latest copy of Weekly akhar-e-jehan Karachi or Khawateen? Or maybe you want to settle down for a good read from Ibne Safi? Visit one of the 17 branches listed below, which carry Urdu materials including books, CDs, DVDs and magazines.

Library Branches with Urdu Items 

Large: 1500 or more items Medium: 750-1500 items Small: Fewer than 750 items

If you can’t visit one of the 17 branches to browse their collection, there is another option for getting the item you want. Just look up the title or author/performer of the book or movie on our website (search is only available in Latin alphabet) and place a hold on the material. We will send the item to your closest branch for pick-up.

Popular Movies to Borrow

Humsafar Bin roye Bol2011 Dil-e-muntazir

Books & Magazines

  Weekly Akhkar-e-jehan Khawateen Digest April 2016

Mango Language LearningFor those wanting to learn the language so you can start enjoying amazing movies, music and books, try Mango Languages.  This online learning tool helps you learn a new language with lessons on vocabulary and grammar accompanied by exercises. You can even create an account to track your progress. 

A library card is required to use borrow materials and access the online resources including Mango Languages, so if you are not a member yet, find out how to get your library card here.

Besides books and movies in Urdu, we also have Library Settlement Partnership workers in some branches who speak Urdu who can help newcomers with information on employment, housing and education.

With the nicer weather, why not visit your local library and see what you can find!

Save the Date - Second Annual Toronto Newcomer Day on May 24!

May 6, 2016 | Elsa | Comments (0)

I still recall how much fun everyone had at the first annual Toronto Newcomer Day on May 29, 2015. It was a day celebrating newcomers’ contributions to the City of Toronto and Mayor John Tory’s Proclamation of Newcomer Day. Over 2,000 Torontonians and Newcomers came out and took part in different activities throughout the day: meeting with municipal, provincial and federal officials, enjoying some energetic cultural performances, sharing their thoughts at Speaker’s Corner, attending a short talk by award-winning Canadian author Teresa Toten, connecting with Parks, Forestry and Recreation and Toronto Seed Library in the Diversity Garden, and conducting self-guided City Hall tours. A huge information fair also took place. It was a memorable day with something for everyone.


For this year's Toronto Newcomer Day, it is even more exciting! It will take place at Nathan Phillips Square on Tuesday, May 24 from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm. Be sure to mark that on your calendar. It is expected that 3,000 - 5,000 Torontonians and Newcomers will come out! Toronto Public Library is pleased to be a part of it again.

Newcomer Day 2016 Poster

The second annual Toronto Newcomer Day is sure to be a fun and family-friendly, free event! This year, Mayor Tory and special guest Senator Ratna Omidvar will celebrate the big day with everyone! For more details about the day, check out:

Toronto Newcomer Day Activities

Did you know that there is a library branch inside City Hall? On Newcomer Day, be sure to stop by City Hall Branch to register for a library card if you do not have one yet.

Library Card
LSP Logo

Toronto Public Library also offers a variety of resources for newcomers. The Library Settlement Partnerships (LSP) is offered at several library branches where a settlement worker can help newcomers with their settlement needs. This is a program funded by Immigration, Refugees,and Citizenship Canada

Don’t miss out on Toronto Newcomer Day!


Greek at Your Library | Ελληνικά στη βιβλιοθήκη σας

April 28, 2016 | Suzanne | Comments (0)

Hello! Γειά σας! Did you know that there are five branches that carry Greek materials at the Toronto Public Library? With thousands of books, CDs, DVDs and magazines to choose from, make the Toronto Public Library the first place you visit if you want to read Greek books, learn Greek or watch a Greek movie. Welcome to Greek at your library! Καλωσορισατε!

Orthodox Easter is coming up this Sun. May 1st, and those who celebrate will be gathering with family and friends. Greek food is one of my favorite cuisines, and you can be sure many homes this weekend will be filled with the delicious smells of Greek cooking. The Taste of the Danforth Food Festival is a great chance to taste-test all of the wonderful Greek food that the city has to offer. The festival is not until August, so if you can’t wait until then, why not try some Greek cooking at home? Here are some books on Greek cooking for you to try:

Eating the Greek Way    Food From Many Greek Kitchens    How to Roast a Lamb    Ikaria

The library also has a great collection of resources to help you learn Greek.

Complete Greek   Greek Beginner   Greek Beginner to Advanced Get Started in Greek

Have you used Mango Languages? Mango Languages is a language learning tool that has many languages to choose from, including Greek. It is helpful for learning English, too. Why not give it a try? Giatí na min dósei mia dokimí?  There are other ways the library can help you learn English. Browse the New to Canada section of our website for more information. 

Don't have a library card yet? Don’t worry, it’s easy! Simply bring a piece of valid and current name and address identification to your local branch and we can help you get a card.

In addition to these great print and electronic resources, on Thurs. May 5th, the Victoria Village branch is having author Dora Drivas-Avramis come to talk about her book, The Buses and Other Short Stories. This is a collection of short stories about a young Greek community in Canada. Come to the Victoria Village Branch on Thursday May 5th from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. for this special author visit.

From programs, to books, movies and more, the Toronto Public Library's Greek Collection is here waiting for you. Come and check it out!  Ελατε να μας δειτε!

Welcome! This blog is written by librarians and provides information and resources available from the library and around Toronto to new residents of Canada. For more information see the Library's Help for Newcomers website