By: Bogdana Torbina
Libraries are an integral part of any society as they are gateways to knowledge and culture. Not only are libraries valuable because of the volume of information that they hold, but they also serve as community centres which provide helpful programs and resources to the public. They offer language classes, help with job searching and assimilation, organize summer reading camps for youth, provide access to the internet, computers, and printers, they host public events and art exhibitions, and so much more. Libraries and cultural centres aid with community development and neighbourhood regeneration, promote self-improvement, and act as safe gathering spaces for members of the community.
The Toronto Public Library (TPL) system is the largest public library system in Canada. The TPL network is comprised of a total of 100 branches which consist of 81 neighbourhood libraries and 17 district libraries spread across the city. Over 68% of Torontonians use the TPL system. However, Toronto Public Libraries are not the only community centre libraries in the city. The diverse nature of Toronto's neighbourhoods is also reflected in the cultural libraries found within the society. When members of ethnic groups immigrate to Canada and form enclaves in the city, many of them also form cultural libraries which reflect the knowledge brought in by the new group. However, the emergence of cultural libraries and their significance to communities is rarely spoken about as the focus remains mainly on the public library system.
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