Toronto Public Library Has Busiest Year Yet

TORONTO, Jan. 19 /CNW/ - With well over 31 million books, DVDs and other materials borrowed in 2009, Toronto Public Library had its busiest and best year yet. The numbers show that the library is serving Toronto more than ever:

    
    -   The number of materials borrowed (over 31 million) jumped by
        5 percent over 2008
    -   People visited the library's 99 branches 17.5 million times, up 8.5%
        from last year
    -   eTitles (including eBooks, eAudiobooks and music files) were borrowed
        88% more than in 2008
    -   In-branch computer use increased by 11.5%
    

"Libraries play an important role in the city, offering access to information and resources that give everyone an equal chance to succeed," said Jane Pyper, City Librarian. "Increased activity shows that more and more people are relying on their public library and we're here to respond and connect people to the resources and help they need."

Why Torontonians are turning to the library more than ever

Economic downturn

The increase is being attributed in part to the library's positioning as an excellent resource to assist the people of the city throughout the economic downturn. The library responded to the increased demand by beefing up job and career resources, launching a new website section to support job seekers and actively promoting its services to Toronto residents.

Newly renovated branches

The re-opening of three new branches - Jane/Sheppard, Kennedy/Eglinton and Bloor/Gladstone - also boosted numbers in 2009 as the public visited its renovated libraries in droves.

Since it re-opened, Jane/Sheppard has seen a 70 percent increase in circulation, 117 percent increase in program attendance, 124 percent increase in new registrations and a 315 percent increase in information requests.

Kennedy/Eglinton has experienced a 77 percent increase in visits, 150 percent more information requests and a 30 percent jump in the use of library materials.

At Bloor/Gladstone, circulation is up by 97 percent, visits are up by 124 percent and information requests have increased by 104 percent.

Free access to culture and recreation

The Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) program rolled out to all 99 branches last year. The MAP program offers anyone with a library card the opportunity to borrow a free family pass to any of 10 museums. The program is hugely popular and demand has been great across the city with 10,000 passes borrowed every month.

Free wireless service at all branches

In 2009, all Toronto Public Library branches were equipped with free wireless internet access to meet demand from customers coming to the library with personal wireless devices. Customers may connect in any library branch with their laptop, smartphone or any other electronic device that supports the technology.

More welcoming branches

All branches have been focussed on creating a more welcoming environment, including allowing eating and drinking, making the collections more attractive and accessible and increasing and improving programming to reflect the community's needs and interests.

Cultural programming

The Toronto Reference Library is also buzzing with activity, thanks in part to the opening of The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon last fall. The Appel Salon is a premiere public space for civic discourse and community engagement at the heart of the city - a place where Toronto residents can participate in accessible, eclectic, and compelling cultural programming. In 2009, the likes of Tim Flannery, Measha Brueggergosman, Peter Mansbridge, Rex Murphy and Douglas Coupland have attracted audiences totaling 3,600 for engaging, thought-provoking discussions.

The year ahead

2010 will be another busy year for Toronto Public Library. Some highlights will be the launch of a new and improved website, two branch openings, piloting a new homework help program for newcomer children and opening up more KidsStop early literacy centres. As part of the Keep Toronto Reading festival and our community reads program this April, we will be encouraging Torontonians to read One Book (this year, Austin Clarke's More) and join in discussions and programs.

Toronto Public Library is the world's largest urban public library system. Every year, more than 17.5 million people visit our 99 branches and borrow more than 31 million items. To learn more about Toronto Public Library, visit our website at torontopubliclibrary.ca or call Answerline at 416-393-7131.

SOURCE Toronto Public Library

For further information: For further information: Media Contact: Ana-Maria Critchley, (416) 393-7212, amcritchley@torontopubliclibrary.ca


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