City Librarian's Report for March 2018

March 9, 2018 | Vickery Bowles

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Below is my report for the March 2018 Toronto Public Library (TPL) Board meeting, summarizing key activities in support of the priorities outlined in our strategic plan. This report covers items that are not part of the Board agenda package.

Breaking Down Barriers to Access, Driving Inclusion

Cedarbrae Hosts Mayor’s Press Conference

Mayor John Tory visited Cedarbrae branch in February for a press conference about increasing open hours at select library branches as part of the 2018 operating budget. He also took part in a Mini Makers STEM program, interacting with kids and caregivers about their maker challenges. As part of the approved 2018 operating budget, an additional nine branches will be open on Sundays: Burrows Hall, Eglinton Square, Jane/Dundas, Morningside, Sanderson, Steeles, St. James Town, Thorncliffe and Weston. See the Mayor speaking at Cedarbrae.

Somebody and Paul Ainslie with John Tory at Cedarbrae Branch press conference
(l-r) City Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, library board member and City Councillor Paul Ainslie, and Mayor John Tory 

Establishing TPL as Toronto’s Centre for Continuous and Self-Directed Learning

Make a Will Month Programs Slated to Expand

During Make a Will Month in November, TPL partnered with the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) to raise awareness about the importance of properly drafted wills and estates, and powers of attorney. The OBA offered information talks in 33 library branches during the month-long campaign. Well over 1,100 participants attended, making the Make a Will Month series one of TPL’s most successful of the Ask an Expert program series. Customers, particularly older adults, value access to expert information in their local communities, and this was clearly evident in the positive feedback received. TPL will work with the OBA to continue offering the series each November, and will also explore expanding program offerings delivered by OBA to include emerging issues that will engage an aging society.

Make a Will Month program at Humber Bay Library
The Make a Will program at Humber Bay Branch attracted a full house.

TPL Teen Volunteer "Graduates" to Young Voices Guest Editor

All the creative work that goes into Young Voices, TPL's annual magazine of teen writing and visual art, is selected by the Editorial Youth Advisory Group (EYAG), an editorial board consisting of youth volunteers, almost all of whom have had work published in previous issues of Young Voices. The youth selectors are mentored by a team of guest editors, professional writers and artists who work with the teens to decide what goes in the magazine. This year, we were extremely pleased when former EYAG member Wenting Li agreed to take on the role of guest editor. Wenting, whose artwork was featured on the cover of Young Voices 2013, will mentor the youth who select the visual art that will appear in Young Voices 2018. In addition to participating as a member of the EYAG for the past four years, Wenting graduated from OCAD University in 2017. She is currently pursuing a successful career as a freelance illustrator.

Detail from strange new world by Wenting Li
Detail from Strange New World, by Wenting Li, featured on the cover of Young Voices 2013.

Creating Community Connections through Cultural Experiences

Poetry Festival Comes to Library Branches Throughout Toronto

Featuring an afternoon of poetry-related readings, workshops, performances and discussions at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon on Sunday, April 29, TPL's new Spark Poetry Festival comes at the end of National Poetry Month, now in its 20th year in Canada. Dan Chiasson, whose poems and reviews have been featured in The New Yorker since 2000, will explore the poetry of Joni Mitchell, two-time U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey will read from and discuss her work, and library branches around the city will be offering poetry-related programming over the weekend of the festival, April 27-29.

Malvern Branch Celebrates Tamil-Canadian Contributions

In celebration of Tamil Heritage Month, Malvern Branch, in partnership with Malvern Family Resource Centre, the Tamil World Initiative and the Culinaria Research Centre at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, hosted two successful programs that drew more than 100 participants. The programs included cultural performances, a video that depicts the significant contributions Tamil Canadians have made throughout history, a Kolam workshop, a sari decorating workshop and a book discussion on Handmade: Stories of Strength Shared Through Recipes from the Women of Sri Lanka. Tamil Heritage Month, recognized in Canada since 2016, celebrates the contributions that Tamil-Canadians have made to Canada.

Tamil Heritage Month book discussion program
More than 60 people turned out for a book discussion program at Malvern Branch during Tamil Heritage Month in January.

Toronto Star Short Story Contest Award Ceremony at Yorkville April 19

Now in its 40th year, and the biggest and most lucrative contest of its kind in Canada, the Toronto Star Short Story Contest receives up to 2,000 entries a year. This is the ninth year that the contest, which is open to all Ontario residents 16 years of age or older, has been presented in partnership with TPL. The contest winner will be announced at an award ceremony at Yorkville branch on April 19.

Local Artists Invited to Exhibit at the Library

We are pleased to provide space for art exhibits at 16 of our branches across Toronto, reflecting the diverse cultural interests of the city and its neighbourhoods. Artists are invited to submit their work for possible exhibition during the 2018-19 Art Exhibits season (September 2018 to August 2019) before the deadline for submissions, Tuesday, April 3, 2018.

Transforming for 21st Century Service Excellence

Morningside Celebrates 50 Years of Service to the Community

A surprise visit by Scarborough-Guildwood MPP Mitzie Hunter on February 10 kickstarted a month of festivities at Morningside Branch, which is celebrating 50 years of service to the community in 2018. Hunter presented staff with a certificate recognizing the vital role of library service in the community.

Morningside Branch staff and customers celebrating 50 years of library service
Staff and customers celebrate Morningside's 50th anniversary with (holding certificate l-r) TPL Senior Library Assistant Melissa Sookram and Scarborough-Guildwood MPP Mitzie Hunter.

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