Expecting overflow crowd, Library Forum plans for video feed to City Hall main floor

TORONTO, Nov. 23, 2013 /CNW/ - Response to Sunday's City Hall Forum on the Future of the Toronto Public Library (TPL) has been so large, event organizers are asking city staff to provide additional seating in the ground floor lobby and a video feed from Council Chamber. The Forum takes place from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Toronto's Council Chamber will hold about 350 people. Within two hours of the Forum's announcement on OurPublicLibrary.to and in a full-page ad in NOW Magazine, many more seating requests than 350 had been received.

Admission is free, however, and seating will be on a first-come basis. All ages are welcome and a special area for children will be set up in the Council Lounge.

"We're overwhelmed, but not surprised. Torontonians really love their library," said Maureen O'Reilly, president of the Toronto Public Library Workers' Union TPLWU), the Forum's organizer.

"Our goal has always been to help organize that love into a political force that encourages reinvestment in our public library system in every category: access, technology, books and other materials, including ebooks And DVDs."

"We predict Councillors are going to get a lot of phone calls, emails and visits about the library in the weeks to come. We can only hope they respond to the wishes of their constituents, now that they are all trying to distance themselves from Mayor Ford, who wanted to slash $17 million from the library budget in 2011."

TPLWU conducted a successful campaign in 2011 against the Ford plan to cut $17 million from the library budget, which would have caused the closure of several neighbourhood branches and the death of many literacy, job-seeking and children's services. The campaign became front-page news when responses to a retweet from Margaret Atwood caused a "Save Our Library" petition website to crash. When told of this, Councillor Doug Ford, brother of the Mayor, asked: "Who's Margaret Atwood?" Tens of thousands of petitions were delivered to the Mayor in a marathon 24-hour session of the City Council Executive Committee in July, 2011. In the end, not a single branch was closed, although more than 100 library staff positions were cut.

A major draw to the Forum is the first public showing of a specially-commissioned animated short video on the past, present and potential future of the TPL. The video is by James Braithwaite and Josh Rogan, Academy Award nominees and Emmy winners for their 2007 film about a John Lennon interview by a 14-year-old, I Met the Walrus. The four-minute film is narrated by Dr. Vincent Lam, 2006 Scotiabank Giller Award winner.

Guest Speakers will include Trish Hennessy, Ontario Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, CityNews TV political analyst Alejandra Bravo, and Maureen O'Reilly.

After the video premiere, a public dialogue with the audience about the library's future will be punctuated by free book draws, an "Instant Librarian" photo booth and a handful of 90-second videos of famous Toronto authors talking about the importance of a free public library.

SOURCE: Toronto Public Library Workers Union

For further information:

Contact: Maureen O'Reilly, 647-206-7457

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Toronto Public Library Workers Union

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