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Artists In The Library: Interview with Joy Lapps

January 22, 2015 | Diana L. | Comments (0)

Earlier in September, Toronto Public Library partnered with the Toronto Arts Council to launch the Artists in the Library program which celebrates the love of art in neighbourhoods outside of the downtown core.

Joy Lapps

Latoya Joy Lapps, a musician, composer and arts educator was one of the Artists in the Library. Joy taught people of all ages how to play in a steel band at the Downsview Branch leading up to an energetic performance in December!

I got the opportunity to chat with her to hear about her artist residency experience:



What interested you about the Artists in the Library residency?

One of my mentors forwarded me an email from the Toronto Arts Council in which they announced a few new granting programs. I decided to apply to the Artists in the Library program because it allowed me to engage the community by offering free lessons and workshops as well as provide performance opportunities for other professional artists.

What was it like teaching people how to play steel pan in the library?

Joy Lapps having fun playing steelpan
Photo credit: Avital Zemer

I loved teaching people how to play steel pan in the library. It was a really enriching experience for me. Community arts is such an interesting field, no matter the artistic discipline. Especially with the way the program was organized, as the teacher, I never really knew who I would be getting in my class. When I would teach at summer camp, I would typically get an entire file about each participant. I’ve dealt with children and youth with different disabilities, personality disorders, allergies…you name it. And then as a teacher I get to adjust and find ways for each participant to feel included. But at the library I had no idea who I was dealing with. The registration required a name and a phone number at best.

In situations like this, you have a bunch of people who you don’t know anything about. You don’t know where they come from, what their life experience is, what they may be struggling with, if they were able to eat that morning, what their family life is like... and all of these things affect us as humans. They affect how we interact and communicate with people especially strangers. I love working with people and I like to be challenged. I love to make people feel included and feel like they are a part of something.

What were your favourite moments during the Artists in the Library residency?

I had a lot of amazing moments at the library during my residency. One of my favourite moments was seeing how the music in the library drew people in. Almost every time I taught a lesson, patrons in the library were drawn to the story room where I was teaching. I always loved to see how the children and toddlers enjoyed the music.

Young boy playing steelpan at Downsview Library
Photo credit: Larnell

The story room was right beside the children's book area in the library. Toddlers would run away from their parents towards my programming room because they loved the music. Or I would see parents holding their children as they peered through the window of the room. I always had an "open door" policy for lessons and rehearsals. As long as patrons weren't disruptive, they were allowed to come in and watch what we were doing.

In the morning before our final performance I was rehearsing with the string quartet and the percussionist. There were two older men looking through the window so I told my husband to let them know they could come in and listen. They stayed for a while and listened with such joy and appreciation. Eventually they decided to make a party out of it and went to Pizza Pizza and ordered a large party pizza for everyone. The pizza was large enough to share with the musicians, the youth that were helping to set up and a few other random visitors who came to observe the rehearsal.

Youth playing steelpan at the Downsview Library
Photo credit: Larnell

I was most proud of the youth and their level of engagement. They committed to attending classes twice each week. I was able to award them volunteer hours for assisting me in facilitating the family classes. They also helped with almost every aspect of each performance including setup, tear down, preparing refreshments and cleaning up at each performance. They also assisted musicians and décor specialist with moving their equipment in and out of the library. One of the challenging parts of my residency was setting up and tearing down all of the instruments used for the classes. This had to be done twice each week. Depending on the time of day I had to do it alone, which took about an hour each time. But when they were at the library on Friday afternoons, they would help me set up for my Saturday morning classes. It was also great to see their friendships flourish as they spent more time together. In my family class, it was so beautiful to see how the moms especially connected with their children and with the other parents in the class. I also had a few couples in my adult class as well as a mother/daughter duo. Overall, I was able to watch in amazement as relationships were strengthened through music.

What is your advice for people who want to learn how to play steel pan?

People who are interested in learning steel pan can contact some of the local steelbands. AfroPanPan Fantasy and Souls of Street Orchestra are some of the local bands that offer lessons throughout the year. Many of the TDSB schools also offer steel pan as a part of the curriculum and through afterschool programs. I always encourage parents to check the local schools and community organizations to see what arts programs they can access for their children and for themselves.

If people missed seeing you at Downsview, when is your next performance, program or event?

I'll be performing a free concert on February 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm. It takes place at St. Philips Anglican Church - 31 Saint Phillips Rd, Toronto, ON M9P 2N7.

I'll be performing with my jazz quartet. People can also visit my website at to find out more about this concert and other future events.

Joy Lapps and friends performing live!
Photo credit: Avital Zemer

Thank you Joy for the interview and for the wonderful program at Downsview Library earlier this year!  


Joy Lapps has performed at festivals including Toronto's AfrofestMuhtadi’s International Drumming Festival, and Antigua’s Moods of Pan Festival. Her primary instrument is the soprano steel pan. Joy has released four recordings and the self-titled EP Joy (2013). She has been nominated for a Harry Jerome Arts and Media Award and the Caribbean Music and Entertainment Award. Joy is founder of Steel Pan Experience, offering workshops and presentations to schools and communities across Toronto.

The Artists in the Library program animated four other Toronto Public Library branches with four additional talented artists and programs:

D’bi Young AnitafrikaD’bi Young Anitafrika
D’bi Young Anitafrika is an internationally celebrated African-Jamaican-Canadian dubpoet, monodramatist, and educator. She is the published author of two collections of poetry, eight plays, two dubpoetry albums, and The Sankofa Trilogy. D’bi led theatre workshops for youth, culminated in a play at the Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre.



Dwayne Morgan 

Dwayne Morgan
Dwayne Morgan is a spoken word artist and the 2012 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word National Poetry Slam Champion. He is founder of Up from the Roots entertainment, promoting the artistic contributions of African Canadian and urban influenced arts. Dwayne taught spoken word workshops and helped participants explore their written work using photography and video at the Cedarbrae Branch.  


Founded in 2006, FIXT POINT is a professional theatre and media company engaging communities with site specific performance and audio art. Their goal is to preserve local heritage and promote neighbourhood cultures through art and storytelling. The FIXT POINT group helped people at the Mimico Branch collect local stories to produce an oral history audio installation through recording workshops.


Rukhsana Khan
Rukhsana Khan
Rukhsana Khan is an award-winning author and storyteller. She has published twelve books ranging from picture books to short stories to teen novels. Rukhsana held storytelling workshops at the Fairview Branch, helping participants tell their life story.


Check out our Programs webpage for more special programs with artists, innovators and other talented Torontonians!

We're back

July 23, 2014 | Erin | Comments (0)

After a bit of a break, the York Woods District Blog is back!

Keep your eyes (or RSS feed) here for updates on branch programs, reading lists, and more.

Welcome Back

In the meantime, here's something to get you through:


March Break Mania at Downsview

March 4, 2014 | Sarah | Comments (0)

March Break is right around the corner!

Struggling to figure out how to spend the week with your kids?

Come visit Downsview Library for FREE programs all week long. Limited tickets are available 30 minutes before the program.

Here's the line-up of exciting programs:

Tuesday, March 11th (2 - 2:45p.m.)

Mad ScienceOurhistory04

A spectacular science-themed show where the performer will conjure dry ice storms, float a MAd Science hovercraft, make magic mud, alter sound waves, and much more!


 Wednesday, March 12th (2 - 3p.m.)

PuppetStories and Puppets in French


Thomas invites you to help George and Josephine, his puppet friends, teach Malmain (Sneaky Hand) how to be a friend.

*This program is in French*





Thursday, March 13th (2 - 3p.m.)                


 BalletBallet 101 with Ballet Jorgen


This exciting program gives kids the chance to learn basic positions, see brief dances performed by professionals and try out some steps. Kids can also explore costumes and pointe shoes.



Friday, March 14th (2 - 3:30p.m.)


CroodsMovie: The Croods


Kick back on Friday and join us for 

The Croods and some yummy popcorn!










Interested in more March programs?

Baby Time (Tuesdays, Apr.1 - May 6 @ 11-11:30a.m.)                                             

Ages 0 - 18months *Registration Required*


Living and Learning with Baby (Wednesdays, Mar.26 - May 7 @ 1 - 3p.m.)    

Ages 6 weeks - 6months 

*Registration Required with Toronto Public Health Nurse, Jeanie at 415-338-8675*


Toddler Time (Thursdays, Apr.3 - May 8 @ 11:00 -11:30a.m.)

Ages 19 - 36months *Registration Required*


Family Time (Saturdays, Feb.1 - May 31 @ 11:00 - 11:30a.m.)

Ages 2 - 7, Drop-in *Puppet shows on March 22 & April 19*


Chess Club (Tuesdays, Feb.18 - May 13 @ 5:00 - 6:00p.m.)

Ages 7-12 *Registration Required*


P.A. Day BINGO (Friday, Mar.7 @ 2:00 - 3:00p.m.)

All Ages   *Tickets given out 30mins before the program*


Hope to see you there!

For more information or to register please call 416-395-5720 or by emailing 

Saturday Storytimes are Back at Downsview!

January 29, 2014 | KJ | Comments (0)

  Kids Cold Winter

Brrr…nothing like another cold day and some cooped up kids.

If you want to liven up Saturday mornings, why not visit Downsview Branch for stories, songs, rhymes and a monthly puppet show!

Every Saturday from 11-11:30 one of our talented Children’s Librarians will entertain the kids while you exhale. Sounds pretty win/win.

Take note – Family Storytimes begin this Saturday, February 1st at 11 a.m.  A special Valentine’s Family Time will happen the following Saturday on February 8th.  Our monthly puppet show, starting with the classic, Strega Nona, will be on Saturday, February 22. All again at 11 a.m.

We can’t wait to see you there!

P.S. Want an outing with your baby or toddler? Register for our Babytime on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. or our Toddler Time on Thursdays at 11 a.m. by calling 416-395-5720 or emailing

December at Downsview Branch!

December 11, 2013 | KJ | Comments (0)

SnowflakeDownsview Library is having fun this holiday with seasonal crafts, movies and story times!

If your child enjoys making holiday crafts join us to make a cute reindeer decoration, sparkly gift tag or a creative wreath - maybe they’ll make all three!! Saturday December 14th 11:00 a.m. to Noon. Children ages 3-7 are welcome to come by, no registration is required.

We're starting the holiday break early by showing a compilation of 7 holiday films from the National Film Board on the PA Day Friday December 20th from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Children ages 4 and up will be able to attend. Limited free tickets available at 1:30 p.m. Refreshments provided

And the fun continues on Friday January 3rd with our FIRST movie of 2014! From the makers of Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, comes a winning story about a humble garden snail who attains miraculous powers. With his newfound super speed Turbo wants to achieve his biggest dream – becoming the fastest snail in the world and winning the Indy 500. Join us for popcorn, drinks and fun! This movie is for children ages 3 and up. Limited free tickets available at 1:30 p.m.

Come join us for some festive holiday fun! We look forward to seeing you there!  Happy Holidays!


Bata Shoe Museum Visits Downsview Library!

October 17, 2013 | KJ | Comments (0)

Kids ShoesHave you ever wanted to touch a shoe made from a tire? What about examine official museum objects up close?

Come to Downsview branch on Saturday, October 26 from 2-3 p.m. in the Upper Program Room and you’ll get your chance! Bata Shoe Museum staff will be on site to entertain with fascinating shoe stories and to help kids create their very own shoe-shaped magnet craft to take home.

This program is a part of Toronto Public Library’s MAP Saturdays. Click here to learn more.

To register for this fun program call 416-395-5720 or email

See you (and your shoes!) here at Downsview on October 26!

Let's Celebrate Italian Heritage Month!

June 10, 2013 | Diana L. | Comments (0)

June is a pretty exciting time of the year!

It’s Aboriginal Celebration Month, Senior’s Month, and also Bike Month!

But did you know that it is also Italian Heritage Month?

 Italian Heritage Month Poster

On October 7, 2010, the Provincial Legislature passed Bill 103, officially declaring June as Italian Heritage Month!

Recently, Mr. Michael Tibollo, president of the National Congress of Italian-Canadians, gave a presentation about Italian Influences in the Modern World at the Downsview Branch.

Mr. Tibollo spoke of culture as a "badge of honor that we should all wear...regardless of what country we come from," and with cultural celebrations such as Italian Heritage Month, it is an opportunity for people to learn about different cultures.


And on that note, you are all invited to check out the special programs at the Downsview Branch in celebration of Italian Heritage Month!


The Mystery of San Nicandro” Film Screening
Thursday June 13th, 1:00 pm

A timeless story about identity, family and belonging. In the words of producer/executive producer Vanessa Dylyn, "'The Mystery of San Nicandro' is ultimately a testament to the inexorable force of the past, how it shapes our identity and sense of belonging, and how the echo of our DNA reaches across centuries to claim us. That echo is universal — no matter what our differences, we all have an ancestral journey and a past." The film is 75 minutes with a special Q&A session. For more information about the film, visit


Learn Italian!
Thursday June 20th, 1:00 pm
Enjoy a lunch time language learning session with Pino & Eleonora from Toronto’s Italian language school, Tutorino! Learn the correct pronunciation of every day Italian treats such as espresso, tiramisu, gnocchi and more. You'll definitely impress your Italian-speaking friends after this program!  

 Italian Heritage Month Logo

The Italian Immigrant: A Musical Journey
Saturday June 29th, 2:30 pm
Come enjoy the music of Tino@Vivo who will perform "The Italian Immigrant Experience in Ten Songs Plus One" on his acoustic guitar! Enjoy a selection of modern and classic Italian songs about the immigrant experience.


All of the above programs are FREE!
Please contact the branch at 416-395-5720 to register and for more information.


Also, from now until June 22nd, be sure to stop by the Downsview Branch to see the beautiful artwork from members of the Golden Age Academy! Their 2013 art exhibit is called Pride of Heritage and features beautiful paintings and arts & craft pieces that is on display throughout the branch. Come check out the talent of local Downsview artists!


Lastly, I'd like to share one memorable moment from a program earlier this month - Happie Testa from Rainbow Caterpillar books came to the branch as a featured Family Time storyteller to read to kids in English and in Italian. By the end of the program, both kids and parents who didn't speak Italian as their first language were repeating the Italian words they had just learned from the children's books she read! It was wonderful seeing kids and parents revel in the joys of learning a new language together.

Family Time in Italian

You can look for a branch that has materials in your language here -

Eager to start learning a new language? Try this.


How will you be celebrating Italian Heritage Month?

Saturday Family Time at Downsview

April 30, 2013 | stephen | Comments (0)

Saturday storycraftTeeter-toys-craft-photo-260x260-mbecker-0003

Join us on Saturdays for our family time at Downsview Library

For the next few weeks we will be featuring our storycraft sessions.

Come in on Saturdays at 2:00pm to hear a good story, followed by a story themed craft. 



Have you ever been curious about carvings or the little stone Inuksuk made popular by the Vancouver Olympics?

2009-0605-Ilanaaq-2010Oly-WhistlerAs part of our Saturday family programming series, the Downsview Library is hosting the Museum of Inuit Art's curator to come and speak to children about the collection.


Come join the Museum of Inuit Art at Downsview Branch on Saturday May 11, 2013 to touch some museum artifacts from their hands-on collection, play traditional Inuit games and make your own piece of art.


This program will run from 2:00pm to 3:00pm and is open to children of all ages!


Please call 416-395-5720 to register 3982445602-1-e1364601644318

March Madness at Downsview

March 4, 2013 | stephen | Comments (0)

Ncaa-march-madness_bigMarch Madness is in full effect at Downsview this March break with a full slate of children's programming.



Here's a full breakdown of the week ahead:


Saturday March 9 Dr. Seuss Storytime 11:00-12:00pm

Oh the stories you'll hear when we celebrate the one and only Dr. Seuss. And to Think I Heard It on Keele Street!


Monday March 11 Reptilia 2:00-3:00pm

Would you like to meet a Python? Join us on Monday March 11 for Reptilia!

Chameleon    Reptilia features a wide variety of reptile from tortoises to alligators! Free limited tickets will be available 30 minutes before the start of the program


Tuesday March 12 The Secret Life of Arrietty 2:00-3:30pm

Based on the book The Borrowers, Arrietty and her parents are tiny people who live under the floor boards of a human house. Free limited tickets available 30 minutes before the start of the program


Wednesday March 13 Game-A-Ganza Day 1 2:00-3:30pm Sack

Join Downsview Branch this March Break for some carnival type games.  See if you can beat the "skill" testing games. Win some prizes! Have some fun!  Free limited tickets available 30 minutes before the start of the program.

Thursday March 14 Game-A-Ganza Day 2 2:00-3:00pm

Thursday's event will feature a Wii-Archery competition. The tournament will be played round robin style and a prize will be awarded to the winner!  Free limited tickets available 30 minutes before the start of the program.


Magic-wandFriday March 15 Spectacle de Magic 2:00-3:00pm

Dans un spectacle hautement interactif que vous ne serez pas prêt d'oublier, vous tomberez sous le charme du seul et unique Jean Deshaies.Billets gratuits disponible 30 minutes avant le spectacle. All welcome but please note program is in French.



Saturday March 16 Seed Planting Program 11:00-12:00pm

Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?  Visit us for storytime and find out!  Afterwards, children will be given seeds to plant in order to grow their own plant.


Come to Downsview for March Madness week.





What's new at the Downsview? February Spotlight

February 2, 2013 | stephen | Comments (0)

It is freezing cold outside but our children's programming slate is heating up this February!

Come in and join us at Downsview for one of our many upcoming programs. 

Join us on Mondays at 3:30pm for Minute To Win ItBhspitmonkey-old-school-game-controller-clip-art

         An after school program for kids ages 8-13 featuring all sorts of activities and prizes. Activities range from the simple (blowing plastic cups off of a table) to video games and scientific experiments!


 Also on Mondays, beginning February 25, we will resume our legendary Chess Club at 6:30pm


           The chess club is open to beginners and experienced players alike and is for all children ages 7-13


On Tuesdays we have Baby Time at 1:30pm

Half an hour of bouncing, tickling, singing and laughter for parents/caregivers and their babies ages 0-18 months.

Baby14             On Thursdays we have Toddler Time at 11:30am


Join us for stories, rhymes and songs for parents/caregivers and their toddlers ages 18-48 months.


Finally on Saturday February 9th come join us for Valentine's Day Card Making and Stories from 11:00am - 12:00pm

Come and decorate fun Valentine's Day cards for your family and friends! Fun Valentine's Day stories before the craft.




Come on in and beat the cold this winter!

Welcome to the York Woods District Libraries' blog. Our purpose is to provide information about Library programs and services, community news, and special events in the Black Creek, Downsview and Jane-Finch neighbourhoods. You are invited to be a part of our interactive space where you can post and respond to comments. Visit the blog often, or subscribe to the RSS feature for automatic updates. Follow the link for an explanation of RSS feeds and how to subscribe.