City Librarian's Report for May 2022

May 12, 2022 | Vickery Bowles

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Below is my report for the May 2022 Toronto Public Library (TPL) Board meeting. It summarizes 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.    

Opening up our public space

Virtual Community Open House: Ethennonnhawahstihnen' Library and Community Centre

Ethennonnhawahstihnen rendering by MJMA Architects
Ethennonnhawahstihnen' rendering by MJMA Architects

TPL hosted a virtual community open house for Bayview branch on April 21. The new Indigenous name, Ethennonnhawahstihnen', was announced in partnership with Councillor Shelly Carroll and City Staff and with approval from the Huron-Wendat nation, the Library Board and the North York Community Council.

MJMA Architects discussed the design approach of the community centre and the layout of the branch. City staff provided an overview of the planned aquatic and recreation spaces. The presentation revealed that the new branch would be double in size, feature meeting/program rooms, and include ample seating and study spaces. Additionally, the hours of operation will increase to 62.5 hours and the beloved staff from Bayview will be there to serve customers in the new space. We received feedback about parking, the relocation from the Bayview mall location, and the renaming of the branch. There were also excellent discussions about programming ideas for the new facility and how we can move forward together.

Seventy-eight community members participated in the open house and Councillor Shelley Carroll’s created a wonderful video on the naming and pronunciation of Ethennonnhawahstihnen'. 

Biblio Bash Raises a Record-Breaking $837,807

Biblio Bash at Toronto Reference Library
Biblio Bash at Toronto Reference Library

After a three-year hiatus, Biblio Bash, presented by TD Bank Group, was back in grand style! More than 400 local philanthropists, business leaders, city builders and library supporters came together on April 7th at the Toronto Reference Library. The branch was transformed for the sold-out black-tie gala, which raised $837,807 in part to support one of TPL’s most vital programs – Internet Connectivity Kits. The TPL Foundation unveiled an impactful new video featuring one of the many families who have benefitted from this life-changing program.

Tyrone Edwards from CTV’s ETALK hosted the event which kicked off with a powerful spoken word performance written for the occasion by Ontario’s Poet Laureate, Randell Adjei. Each of the 39 dinner tables welcomed a notable Canadian author, including Heather O’Neill, Ali Hassan, Saleema Nawaz, Shari Lapena, Randy Boyagoda, Ashley Audrain, and Linda Rui Feng. To read more about the event, visit, and see the some of the wonderful photos captured by celebrity photographer George Pimentel.

Toronto Public Library Foundation also recently announced its new Chief Executive Officer, William “Will” Scott. Will joined on April 4th, and previously served as Chief Advancement Officer at Evergreen, the largest environmental organization focused on urban issues in Canada. As a former urban public school teacher and history professor, Will has an abiding commitment to literacy and education and we welcome him to Toronto Public Library. You can read more about Will in this press release issued by the TPL Foundation in April.

Broadening Toronto's digital access and inclusion

Privacy Awareness Week programs

What is a smart city?
What is a smart city? program

During Privacy Awareness Week (May 2-6), TPL hosted four online programs about digital privacy, smart cities and strategies to improve mindfulness when using one’s digital devices that reached over 77 users. The programs highlighted how to improve one’s privacy and safety on their computer and mobile devices as well as privacy concerns in smart city applications.

TPL also collaborated with Canadian Civil Liberties Association to host a staff Lunch and Learn about “Intellectual Freedom in the Golden Age of Surveillance Technologies” that was attended by 32 staff. Brenda McPhail (Director of Privacy, Technology and Surveillance) facilitated a discussion about what surveillance poses to intellectual freedom in Canada, including the technologies that fuel this issue, and the challenge of protecting our rights to read and speak.


Building pathways for workforce development

New Courses Available through Let’s Learn Tech Online

Cyber Threat Management
Cyber Threat Management is one of the new courses available

Let’s Learn Tech Online was updated in April to include additional and refreshed courses on Skills for All (SFA), a new mobile-friendly eLearning platform under the Cisco Networking Academy umbrella. SFA will reach underserved learners with flexible and accessible options, while also providing a pipeline to courses on the NetAcad platform.

The SFA platform was created for self-paced learning with the purpose of contributing to the global economic recovery through reskilling, providing options to people mid-career, as well as young people, exploring new career paths. Courses on the Skills for All platform include more gamification, interactive activities, and videos, as well as updated content.

Learners can now access a number of new Skills for All courses through Let’s Learn Tech Online, including Packet Tracer courses, Endpoint Security, Network Defense and Cyber Threat Management. JavaScript Essentials 1, available through, was also added. The updated webpage now features a Cybersecurity Pathway, which prepares learners for an entry-level cybersecurity job and is certification aligned with the IT Specialist – Cybersecurity certification through Certiport. Courses previously available through, including Introduction to Cybersecurity, Introduction to IoT and Digital Transformation, Networking Essentials, and Cybersecurity Essentials, have been updated and are now also available through the Skills for All platform.

Providing the vital ingredients for a democratic society

Raising Confident Kids Workshop Series for Parents/Caregivers

Dr. Zia Lakdawalla and Mark Yearwood
Speakers Dr. Zia Lakdawalla (left) and Mark Yearwood (right)

During March and April, TPL hosted four engaging online workshops to support parents and caregivers as part of the Raising Confident Kids programming series. DigitalSmarts delivered Digital Parenting, which focused on managing screen time and online safety for children. Educator Rhonda Hewer presented Learning Math through Your Child’s Eyes to share how children are learning math and why this approach is beneficial to their development. Dr. Zia Lakdawalla from Foundations of Emotional Wellness, shared tips on managing children’s emotions in Building Emotional Regulation Skills in Your Child. Lastly, Mark Yearwood from Kids in the Woods Initiative presented on How to Connect Your Family to Nature about the importance of playing in nature for the successful development of children. In total, 215 participants attended these live workshops with over 130 watched a replay of the program.

Investing in staff and an innovative service culture

learn:tpl – Promotion & Engagement

As part of our efforts to find new ways to promote learning opportunities, we have enabled some new features in learn:tpl, TPL’s learning management system. Hundreds of playlists (e.g. Overcome Stressful Situations at Work and Lead With Knowledge: Mental Health) are now available as part of the Cornerstone Content Anytime subscriptions; these Cornerstone-curated collections provide a great entry point for staff to explore a particular topic in more detail. Staff subject matter experts can also recommend content to build custom playlists (e.g. Services to Vulnerable Persons), which will help others discern where their limited time is best spent. The Rating & Review feature is also new; staff are encouraged to give a star rating and review for all completed courses. Reviewers are identified, and their ratings and reviews are available for all to read. Having this type of “peer review” will help us continue to evolve the learning culture at TPL.