In 2015, donors to Toronto Public Library supported many of the library’s programs, services, collections and spaces – helping thousands of Torontonians to read, learn and create. All of the following were funded in part or fully by donors.
Bookmobiles bring the library and all its benefits to people who might not otherwise visit a branch. The two Bookmobiles visit 28 neighbourhoods across Toronto including family shelters and community centres. In 2015, over 3,600 people used the Bookmobiles to borrow books, DVDs, audio books and other materials.
HOME LIBRARY SERVICE
“I have been a customer of Home Library Service for several years. Without this service I would be lost, as much of my day is taken up with listening to the books,” said one of the library’s grateful Home Library Service (HLS) customers. HLS is a lifeline to learning, entertainment and engagement for 2,500 seniors. Last year the friendly drivers made almost 15,000 visits to homes and longterm care facilities.
REACH OUT AND READ
In January 2015, a partnership with St. Michael’s Hospital was launched to help improve childhood literacy – the foundation of learning and life success. Physicians and nurse practitioners in the Reach Out and Read program talk to parents about the importance of reading aloud to their children and each child receives a reading kit. Donors provided funding for 4,000 Let’s Get Ready for Reading Guides included in the kits.
This new service means that some of the city’s highest needs children can now gain pre-literacy skills through singing, rhyming and listening to stories. From January to August 2015, librarians engaged with over 1,500 children at family shelters and community centres. Read how one family benefited.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL OUTREACH
Given how important the library is to childhood literacy, librarians from Toronto Public Library visit almost every kindergarten class across the city introducing children and their families to the wonders of the library. During the 2014/2015 school year, librarians spoke with 44,000 kindergarten students.
Grade 4 Outreach reaches children when they are transitioning from learning to read, to reading to learn. The program re-introduces students to TPL and provides parents with information about age-appropriate programs and services. In 2014/2015, donors funded welcome packages for 21,000 Grade 4 students.
TD SUMMER READING
The TD Summer Reading Club is one of the library’s core programs. It’s a national program of fun, summertime activities that engage young children in the joy of reading. Since 2004, the program has encouraged more than 2.5 million new readers, while championing Canadian writers and illustrators. Last year, 38,000 children participated in Toronto.
TPL has an amazing 650 stories in 16 languages available 24/7. Dial-a-Story builds pre-literacy skills and helps newcomer children learn English. Last year Dial-a-Story received over 200,000 calls.
KidsStop early literacy centres are fun, interactive learning spaces for children birth to five and their caregivers. The seventh KidsStop opened last year in the new Scarborough Civic Centre branch.
Parents and children who are hungry for book recommendations can now pick up a free Great Reads booklet at any library branch thanks to Kumon Canada.
Last summer, almost 18,000 teens connected online sharing their book recommendations and love of reading. At branch events, participants gained a broader perspective on creativity by meeting authors, artists, makers and other creators.
The Native People’s Collection currently has over 3,000 items and approximately 100 items were added last year with donor funding. The collection is a resource for current and historical topics. This unique collection enables the public to delve into the cultural diversity of Native Peoples with books, CDs and DVDs on art, literature, language and culture.
Students in grades 7-10 who are struggling in school can get free tutoring in math, science, English, French, and other subjects. In 2015 the number of Youth Hubs doubled from two to four and 318 students participated. Students who are new to Canada and for whom English isn’t their first language, can get the extra help they need in a safe, welcoming environment.
POP-UP LEARNING LABS
Toronto Public Library has three Digital Innovation Hubs and now thanks to donor funding, three Pop-Up Learning Labs (PULL). Library users of all ages and expertise can learn and create with free access to 3D printing, computer programming, robotics, game development and electronics.
INNOVATORS IN RESIDENCE
Innovators in Residence teach practical skills to people who want to improve their job skills or explore new technology. The workshops are free and open to everyone. In September, the Innovator at Toronto Reference Library held workshops on 3D design that drew 150 participants. The Innovator at Scarborough Civic Centre taught aspiring and practicing tech users about circuits and the Fort York Innovator led workshops on robotics design.
People want to have the knowledge to manage their health. The library now offers Torontonians access to credible healthcare information thanks to new funding from the Krembil Foundation which supports the Cutting Edge lecture, branch-based health-related talks, enhanced health collections and training for staff.
Environmental issues are of great interest to the public, but it can be difficult to get a clear understanding of the issues. Last year over 500 people attended educational programs about the environment, funded by TD Friends of the Environment.
CREATE and CONNECT
Little ones love the library’s puppets. This past year more children got to have fun with puppets and be entertained at puppet shows, thanks to one donor who wanted to bring joy to children.
Through Young Voices, teens explore their creativity, connect with other like-minded youth and build their confidence. “A career in the arts always kind of seemed like an unreachable goal, but these workshops kind of bridged the gap between dreams and reality,” said one participant. The Young Voices program consists of Young Voices magazine which last year received 543 submissions; an annual Writers’ Conference which had 145 participants ; workshops across the city; and an Electronic Writer in Residence.
Spoken word and poetry slams have demonstrated their power and appeal to youth across the city, especially youth living in marginalized areas. The library’s spoken word program not only impacts the youth who take part; it provides well-known young artists with an opportunity to work with youth in a mentorship role. Last year teens from eight branches – five of which are in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas – participated in workshops and then performed at Toronto Reference Library.
On November 16, Toronto Reference Library opened its first green screen room for video and audio production. Library patrons can now take advantage of the free space to film and create for personal or professional endeavours.The room includes a workstation with audio production software, cameras, lights and microphones.
SUN LIFE MUSEUM + ARTS PASS (MAP)
Every year, thousands of families are able to visit some of Toronto’s most popular cultural destinations thanks to the Sun Life Museum + Arts Pass. The free passes, available at library branches across the city, enable lower income families to experience Toronto’s culture.
The TD Gallery at the Toronto Reference Library is a completely accessible space that showcases some of the library’s rare and unique items from its Special Collections. Last year visitors learned about Toronto’s Black history at the Freedom City exhibit, admired the world renowned Audubon’s Birds of America and relived their childhood at the Maurice Sendak exhibit.
Black History Month
In 2015, over 4,000 people took part in Black History Month celebrations at branches across the city. With a diverse program of film, music, lectures, dance and spoken word there was something for people of all ages and backgrounds.
For more information on how donors make an impact, read the Toronto Public Library Foundation 2015 Annual Report