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All stories relating to Toronto Public Library

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TPL city librarian Jane Pyper steps down

Toronto Public Library announced today that its head staffer, city librarian Jane Pyper, will step down from her post in June. A search for Pyper’s replacement will begin at the library board’s upcoming meeting on March 24, according to a press release.

“I am proud of the work that has been accomplished by the Toronto Public Library in recent years. It is the result of joint efforts by the board, library staff, the Toronto Public Library Foundation, and the many community partners who have all contributed to the vision and reality of a busy, successful and great library that serves a great city,” Pyper says in the release. “I have enjoyed my time at the library immensely and look forward to contributing to the life of this city in other ways.”

Pyper, who assumed the role of city librarian in 2008, joined the public library in North York in 1983, prior to its 1998 amalgamation with Metro Toronto. Under her leadership the TPL’s ebook and digital magazine lending has grown by nearly 1,300 per cent since 2009, and it has opened the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon for cultural and literary programming, increased its children and youth services, and laid the groundwork for two new branches, Fort York and Scarborough Civic Centre, bringing the system to 100 locations.

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Photos: Book Lover’s Ball

On Feb. 6, more than 500 guests and authors mingled at the Book Lover’s Ball, held at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York.

The popular annual gala, which featured a silent auction and literary-inspired entertainment, raised funds in support of the Toronto Library Foundation.

Click on the thumbnails to see who attended.


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Toronto Public Library picks Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo as community read

(photo: Frances Raud)

The Toronto Public Library has chosen Steven Galloway’s 2008 novel, The Cellist of Sarajevo (Knopf Canada), as this year’s One Book community read. The book revolves around the true story of Vedran Smailović, a former cellist in the Sarajevo String Quartet, who played Albinoni’s Adagio in the same square for 22 days in honour of 22 victims killed there during a mortar attack.

One Book is an annual initiative that encourages Torontonians to read and discuss a single title. The program is part of the TPL’s annual Keep Toronto Reading Festival, which takes place in April.

As part of the festival, the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram and Bluma Appel Salon will host several related events, including an evening with Toronto Symphony Orchestra principal cellist Joseph Johnson and poet Ann Shin (April 2); a talk with historian Margaret MacMillan, Munk School of Global Affairs director Janice Stein, and diplomat Paul Heinbecker (April 7); a discussion about turning facts into fiction with authors Greg Hollingshead, Helen Humphreys, and Nino Ricci (April 15); and a book club meeting with Galloway (April 28). A full list of events will be announced March 10.

Galloway’s new novel, a fictionalized retelling of Harry Houdini’s life and death called The Confabulist, comes out in April with Knopf Canada. An excerpt is available for download from the TPL’s website.


Harlequin author upset over Toronto Public Library’s anti-Valentine’s Day event

The Toronto Public Library was called out by the website Jezebel this morning for an anti-Valentine’s Day event that originally advertised vandalizing romance novel covers. The Anti-Valentine’s Day Anti-Party invites teens tired of the holiday to spend an afternoon wearing black and writing “the worst break-up letter ever,” with rewriting romance novel covers as the main event.

Harlequin author and former TPL employee Vicki Essex posted an open letter to the TPL on her website, denouncing the disrespectful implications of the event.

The letter was picked up by Jezebel and has generated discussion in the site’s comment section and on the TPL’s event page.

Essex writes:

“While I understand the anti-Valentine’s day sentiment, holding this public event does not help foster positive attitudes toward healthy romantic relationships in young people. I can understand the program’s effort to be edgy and tongue-in-cheek and draw more patrons, however, I cannot condone the destruction of reading materials in this fashion with the explicit intention to mock, marginalize, abuse and denigrate the romance genre.”

The TPL has since tweeted clarification that teens would be invited to create their own anti-romance book covers, not vandalize the books themselves. The official event page has also been updated.

Despite the critical response, the event will go ahead as planned on Feb. 10 at the North York Central Branch and Feb. 13 at the Sanderson Branch.


Toronto Public Library tries to keep up with demand for Crazy Town

If early demand from libraries is any indication, Robyn Doolittle’s political exposé, Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, could be on its way to becoming a bestseller.

According to Yahoo News, the Toronto Public Library had already received 500 hold requests for its 145 copies before it became available Monday afternoon. The wait time to snag a copy is estimated at 72 days.

Doolittle’s publisher, Penguin Canada, promises that Crazy Town offers “shocking new revelations about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, his family and associates.”

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Rogers removes digital magazines from libraries

In October, the Toronto Public Library launched a public-transit advertising campaign for “free ebooks and e-magazines.” According to a TPL press release, borrowing rates have doubled since September, when the library began actively promoting its digital magazine service.

Like many libraries across Canada, TPL partners with Zinio, touted as “the world’s largest newsstand,” to deliver e-magazines to readers, but the service’s future in Canada is uncertain. Last week, The Globe and Mail reported that Rogers Media has removed all its titles from Zinio, including Maclean’s, Canadian Business, Chatelaine, Flare, Flare Trend Report, L’actualité, Loulou, Maclean’s University Guide, MoneySense, and Today’s Parent. A note on the TPL website says, “We were disappointed to learn about Rogers Publishing Group’s decision, and regret that we cannot offer access to these Canadian digital publications.”

According to the Globe, Rogers’ decision came on the advice of the trade association Magazines Canada, which warned about technical problems with Zinio. Magazines Canada CEO Mark Jamison told the newspaper: “The association recommended that its members withdraw from the program due to software technical issues that meant digital magazines were not being delivered in a way that is consistent with content delivery expectations and restrictions.”

On his industry blog Canadian Magazines, D.B. Scott says “it can’t be a complete coincidence” that Rogers is preparing to launch its own digital media service. In January, Magazines Canada is also rolling out Canada’s Magazine Store, promoted on its website as a “one-stop shop for all member titles.”  The association states that its “relationship with digital circulation suppliers is changing, including our Zinio-based program.”

Although the absent Rogers Media titles leave a gap in the TPL’s offerings, the library’s top downloaded titles so far this year are The Economist, House & Home, Us Weekly, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone.

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Toronto Public Library adds Kobo to retail partners

The Toronto Public Library has expanded its retail affiliate program to include digital titles from Kobo.

Patrons can now purchase ebooks directly from Kobo through linked pages on For each ebook purchased, TPL receives a portion of sales, which goes toward funding special collections and services.

In March, TPL launched an affiliate program for print books with Indigo Books & Music. According to TPL communications spokesperson Ana-Maria Critchley, 509 items have been purchased to date. Although the idea of libraries selling books is controversial, Critchley says social-media response has been “largely positive” and no formal complaints have been filed.

TPL is the only library in Canada that currently supports bookselling. Future plans for the program, which will be evaluated in a year, include a partnership with Victoria’s AbeBooks.

In the June issue of Q&Q, Vancouver librarians Shirley Lew and Baharak Yousef argue that libraries should get directly into the business of selling books. Read the guest opinion piece here.


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Toronto Public Library initiates date-due slip advertising

By next month, Toronto Public Library users will begin noticing advertisements on the backs of their date-due slips. The announcement comes a little more than a year after the TPL started looking into selling ads to make up a $3.9-million budget shortfall.

The new advertising program will be run by Receipt Media, a Toronto-based company mainly involved in soliciting ads for supermarket receipts. The company’s TPL campaign states that advertisers will be charged $8,000 for six months of full-colour, business card-sized messages, and $15,000 for a year.

The Toronto Star reports that Receipt Media will pay for the library’s slip paper in exchange for the right to sell ads, generating $40,000* annually for the TPL.

The idea resulted from a November 2011 meeting in which the TPL explored money-making options. In February 2012, the library board approved two requests for proposals: one to search for a company to sell ads; another to find a consultant to come up with other advertising opportunities.

The consultant, Quinton Media, suggested the TPL could look to its WiFi service and main website to run ads. According to the Toronto Star, the board has endorsed ads only for the former.

Previously, the TPL has run ads in its What’s On publication — generating $30,000 in 2012 — in addition to sponsored* programs such as the TD Summer Reading Club.

The library also announced last week the launch of a Retail Affiliate Program, allowing customers to purchase books via its website, with the TPL retaining a portion of sales.

Correction, March 12: A previous version of this article stated the revenues for the six-month pilot period. In addition, the TD Summer Reading Club is a sponsored program, not “ad-supported,” as previously reported.

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Toronto Public Library launches Retail Affiliate Program

The Toronto Public Library announced on Wednesday that library users now have the option of purchasing books via its website. Through the new Retail Affiliate Program, customers will see a “buy now” option when they search for a book. The button links them to the Indigo Books & Music website if there is a copy available.

A portion of sales made via the TPL website will support the library’s special collections and services. Going forward, the program will be expanded to include additional retailers.

The Ottawa Public Library has an affiliate plan in the works that would allow users to purchase ebooks through their website. Endorsed by the library board in February, an agreement with publishers and booksellers is still being negotiated.

The TPL’s “buy now” option is currently only available for books in print format.



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Toronto Public Library picks Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for 2013 One Book event

Jim Sales and Jane Pyper

The Toronto Public Library is hoping to get readers fired up this spring with Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (Ballantine Books), which has been chosen for the 2013 One Book community reading event.

“We decided to go with a classic this year,” says Jane Pyper, the city’s head librarian. “Even though Bradbury wrote it years ago … the themes of this novel remain relevant to the media- and tech-saturated world we live in.”

The selection is a deviation from the TPL’s usual focus on a Canadian novel set in Toronto. Published in 1953, the American science fiction and fantasy writer’s dystopian novel takes place in a world where firemen are charged with facilitating institutionalized book burning, all as a result of humanity’s fascination with television.

Pyper made the announcement this morning alongside Toronto fire chief Jim Sales at a fitting location: the Yorkville fire hall.

The partnership between the TPL and Toronto fire services grew from a “natural connection” based on the book’s subject, says Pyper. “We asked if they would [join] us and they were on board immediately.”

Sales adds that, as part of the event, the Toronto fire services will amp up its public education on fire prevention, with outreach officers visiting library branches to share their stories.

The One Book event, an initiative that seeks to get Torontonians discussing a single book, is part of the TPL’s annual Keep Toronto Reading Festival, which takes place every April.

Pyper says discussions on book burning in the digital age and readings by 1,000 students in 35 Toronto high schools are some of this year’s program highlights. The full One Book event listing will be released March 14.

As part of the event, the TPL is asking Torontonians to let them know, via YouTube, which book they would save if their library was burning. Submissions will be entered into a draw to win a reproduction of an image from the library’s special collections.

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