100 Libraries

"A library is also a place where love begins." – Rudolfo Anaya

Tag: Digital Innovation Hub

013 Fort York Library


Fort York Library is one of the newest branches in the Toronto Public Library System, opening its doors in May of 2014. The architectural style of the building compliments the newly developed area around it, with its mostly glass and metal frame. Around the perimeter of the public facing sides of the library are lines from Margaret Atwood’s Journals of Susanna Moodie. The letters are cut by Bhadari and Plater Inc., who have made signs for the Aga Khan Museum, the Bata Shoe Museum and the Royal Conservatory of Music. Right next door is the colonial era settlement of Fort York, from which the Library derives its name.


From all of the cranes in the above image, it is clear that this is an area that is undergoing rapid development. You may be surprised to find that there are a large number of new families in the area. In fact, of their various programming options, baby classes and story times are some of the most popular. This may be because young professionals are moving into the area, starting families and staying in their condos. In any case, during my visit, there was a very well attended Mommy and Me Class, which certainly surprised me.


I would be remiss if I did not mention the Digital Innovation Hub at the Fort York Library. There happen to be two hubs, one that offers 3D printing and digital imaging services and another focused on digital media. Digital Innovation Hub 1 is a maker space, that features a suite of iMacs loaded with the Adobe Suite and SCAD software. With these resources, the Branch is able to offer 3D Printing Certification classes (which are needed to use the TPL 3D printers), HTML & CSS classes, Python classes and a whole range of other technological programming.


Digital Innovation Hub 2 is a media lab that features a green screen, a giant tv  set and an iMac with video editing software. This allows the Library to offer unique programs like green screen classes and DJ-ing sessions. This is one of three innovation hubs in the TPL System, the others being located at Toronto Reference Library and Scarborough Civic Centre. These hubs are open to the public to use, with appointments. The cost to use the 3D Printer is 5 cents per minute with a 1 dollar surcharge. The media lab has been used by a wide range of users; from high school film makers to aspiring actors. This is also likely one of the only free recording spaces in the City.

Two notable mentions are the display of Graphic Novels in the Teen section and the glass overlay of a map of Old Fort York behind the Reference Desk. Flipping through the titles, there is a quality graphic novel section available for patrons of this Branch. Unfortunately, the glass overlay did not photograph particularly well, but it is important to remember that this area was one of the first European settlements in North America. If you are visiting the Fort York Library, be sure to seek out these hidden gems.




003 Toronto Reference Library


And here we are at the Toronto Reference Library. This whimsical building was designed by Japanese Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama. There’s a lot to do and see here, so let’s dive in.

Upon entry, you are faced with the difficult choice of going to Page and Panel or Balzac’s Coffee. I am a tad biased, since Page and Panel is probably one of my favourite stores in Toronto, so let’s focus on that.


Page and Panel is affiliated with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which is an annual comic arts festival held at the Toronto Reference Library. There are quite a few exotic wares in this shop, including a selection of book related ephemera, Studio Ghibli books (My Neighbour Totoro, anyone?), manga and anime gifts. For the bibliophiles in your life, this is the perfect place to buy book themed merchandise. I digress.


There’s also the infamous Arthur Conan Doyle Collection. The Collection consists of items relating to Doyle’s writing, not simply his Sherlockian exploits, though those are a big feature. There are the issues of The Strand where Doyle originally published Sherlock Holmes but also his work on prehistory, faeries and spiritualism. Also included in the Collection are things that you wouldn’t expect, like TOEFL books that reference “Elementary, my Dear Watson” in their phrases and a certain literary beagle. The Friends of Arthur Conan Doyle also put on lectures, quiz nights and other outreach programs relating to Doyle and his works. Recently, they had a lecture by David Arquette, who was playing Holmes in Toronto.


Of course, no description of the Toronto Reference Library would be complete without referring to the wonderful events at the Reference Library including the Book Lover’s Ball, the Eh List and a whole host of other programs.

I attended The eh List! event with André Alexis on January 11, 2016 at the Toronto Reference Library. For a recap of that experience, please click here.