Toronto Public Library partners with City of Toronto to boost seniors’ digital literacy
Toronto Public Library, in partnership with the City of Toronto and Toronto Seniors Housing, has started a new program to help boost seniors’ digital literacy skills. Community librarians are providing regularly scheduled on-site training and digital literacy programs to seniors in the community rooms of Toronto Seniors Housing buildings to help increase digital confidence, while reducing loneliness, increasing independence and social connectedness.
Community Librarian Services
While at Toronto Seniors Housing buildings, community librarians offer digital literacy services including:
- Training on effectively using laptops
- Digital literacy classes to assist seniors in accessing mental and physical health resources and housing and community supports
- Sharing online safety tips to help seniors virtually connect to family and friends
- Support in filling out electronic government forms
- Library card registrations and connection to TPL branch programs and services
Every week, four community librarians work in eight Toronto Seniors Housing buildings. The librarians run daily digital literacy programs and offer one-on-one support to seniors. This service is one of the recommendations outlined in Toronto Seniors Strategy 2.0, which responds to the needs of Toronto’s growing senior population.
This year, Toronto City Council approved permanent funding for community librarians as part of the 2022 budget. Seniors’ digital literacy community librarians are also generously supported by the Toronto Public Library Foundation with gifts from an Anonymous Lead Donor, Richard and Joan Boxer, and other donors.
The service is available to residents of the Toronto Seniors Housing Corporation. Locations are selected in collaboration between TSHC and TPL and in consultation with TSHC residents.
Seniors’ Services at TPL
TPL offers a variety of services to support seniors, including digital literacy instruction at Computer Learning Centres, the Book-a-Librarian services that provides one-on-one assistance for tech support and other issues, and a wide variety of programs geared to older adults.
In the earlier stages of the pandemic, TPL called 36,000 seniors to help break the isolation and provide important information about library services and COVID-19 resources.
“During the pandemic we saw the increasing importance of digital literacy and we want to ensure as a city that no one feels left behind. The work to enhance and focus on digital literacy skills is part of our efforts to support seniors in Toronto. I want to thank the Toronto Public Library for partnering with the City and Toronto Seniors Housing on this initiative.”
- Mayor John Tory
“I’m glad to see the work we supported in the 2022 City budget to boost seniors’ digital literacy skills is now underway. These are exactly the type of services we work hard to make sure we are able to provide to our seniors across Toronto. I know this will help make a difference in people’s lives and I was proud to help deliver it through the budget process.”
- Budget Chief Gary Crawford (Scarborough Southwest, Ward 20)
“Bridging the digital divide is one of Toronto Public Library’s strategic priorities. We know that digital literacy is critical to Torontonians’ success and wellbeing, but it’s not always easy to navigate the digital world. Programs like this one that connect seniors to community librarians will make meaningful change in seniors’ lives, resulting in increased confidence and more social connectedness.”
- Sue Graham-Nutter, Chair, Toronto Public Library Board
“Through deep outreach into communities, TPL’s community librarians provide vital connections to those who are most vulnerable and isolated in Toronto. By bringing library services to seniors, community librarians develop relationships of trust and meet people where they are. I’m so pleased that we can offer this high impact service to our growing population of seniors, and am grateful to the City of Toronto and the TPL Foundation for supporting this initiative.”
- Vickery Bowles, City Librarian, Toronto Public Library
“The pandemic has been especially difficult for our seniors who have felt the isolation more acutely. Thanks to this innovative service, our senior tenants will now be able to digitally connect to their family, friends and community supports while at home. Equipping seniors with the tools, training, and resources they need to live independently helps to improve their quality of life. This is a significant step forward in ensuring older adults have equitable access to digital literacy skills, opportunities, and networks beyond their current reach. We are delighted to partner with Toronto Public Library to promote digital literacy and inclusion for Toronto’s seniors population.”
- Tom Hunter, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Seniors Housing
“Delivering library services and supports to get seniors online will help alleviate isolation and loneliness, along with providing older Torontonians a digital world full of access and opportunities. It’s deeply gratifying to see an important recommendation of our Toronto Seniors Strategy being accomplished.”
- Josh Matlow, City Councillor (Toronto-St. Paul’s, Ward 12)
About Toronto Public Library
Toronto Public Library is the world's busiest urban public library system, with more than 46 million annual visits to our branches and online. We empower Torontonians to thrive in the digital age and knowledge economy through easy access to technology, lifelong learning, and diverse cultural and leisure experiences, where, when and how our customers need us. To learn more, visit tpl.ca, email Answerline at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to email updates.