Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Year Resolution Completed 1 Month in Advance!

"Our new year resolution for the program is to build the team larger, perhaps we will form an executive board and expand the program to 15 different locations in total (10 more than what we have now). I personally have lots of faith in my team and I believe this goal is definitely achievable."

Does this quote sound familiar? Well, to all those supports that reads my blog often, I'm sure it does! I wrote this in a post in January this year called "2010 - New Year, New Changes". At that time, CITL had only 5 locations in Toronto since the establishment of this organization in June 2009. Thus, I gave myself and the rest of my teammates a goal, and that was to build an executive board along with the expansion of this program to a total of 15 locations by the end of December 2010.

Our executive board was elected at the end of August, as I mentioned in an earlier poster. If you don't remember, then here are the board members:

President - Yuanling Yuan
Vice-President - Michael Kleinman
Executive Director - Kevin Wu

Our VP is current organizing a volunteer banquet that will be held next weekend and our Executive Director is currently contacting a new location in Scarborough - the Woodside Square branch. And I'm just doing what I always do, the usual management stuff. As the organization grows, the three of us will just get busier and busier...

One by one, my teammates and I worked hard to introduce the Chess in the Library program to new public libraries. Each and every one of them took effort as planning, promotion and operation were essential to the program in each location. From 5 locations to 6, from 6 to 7, 7 to 8...slowly, we were closer and closer to our goal - 15 locations. Today, I'm pleased to announce that we finally confirmed our 15th location - the North Gloucester Library in Ottawa! Here's some info about the CITL program there:

North Gloucester Library

2036 Ogilvie Rd.
Ottawa, ON
K1J 7N8

Open from 1:30pm to 3:00pm on Saturdays, starting from January 22nd, 2011

I'm sure that by now, you all know who is our project leader in Ottawa. That person is none other than one of Canada's young masters - Joey Qin. He was the one who discussed the details of this new location with the local librarians and make sure that everything was going go smoothly. Joey has even made a complete training plan for the program there! He showed me a list of the materials he will be covering during the session and on specific dates too! I won't be giving anything out because I'm sure that Joey would like to share this awesome plan with you on his own blog. :)

Another person that I must thank is Gerry Litchfield from CFC. The librarians first contacted him about the possibility of having a chess program at the North Gloucestor branch and he was the one who forwarded us the information. Without both Gerry and Joey's involvement in this, our new year resolution would've still been incomplete.

Actually, my original plan for this year was to expand the program to 10 more locations in Toronto, and focus of the rest of the country next year. However, we already have 3 locations outside of the city that makes us officially a nation wide program (2 in Ottawa & 1 in Victoria, which was completely unexpected! Thus, with the help of Brian Raymer & the Victoria Chess Society, Joey Qin and all the other volunteers invovled in this program outside of Toronto, we haven't just completed our goal for 2010, but exceed expectations!

Our next step is to expand the program to at least 1 library in each province in Canada. So if you live outside of Toronto and would like to lead the Chess in the Library project at your local library (like Joey and Brian), please do contact us! I know that in our beloved country, there are so many people out there that are very passionate about the game and would like to see chess in Canada become super popular one day. I understand that the current situtation doesn't look very appealing but I believe that one day, dreams do come true. Nothing is impossible - keep that in mind! CITL's 15 locations will become 16, 16 becomes 17, 17 becomes 18...and one day, we might even reach 100! By then, think about how many extra chess players we'll have in the country! These kids will eventually go on to play in CMA or CFC tournaments (many do at the moment), which will contribute to everything chess related here. We need your help! Email us at info@chessinthelibrary if you want to help make Canada a better place for those that love chess. Thanks!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Opening of the CITL program at Bloor/Gladstone & North York Central

The last two Saturdays in October were big days for the CITL executive team, which comprises of me, Michael Kleinman and Kevin Wu. Now why were those Saturdays so important to us? Well, it was the opening of the Chess in the Library program in two new locations! What makes them even more special is they are two of the largest branches in Toronto. We've been trying to introduce the CITL program to them for a really really long time now and finally it's come true! Here they are:

1) Bloor/Gladstone Branch in downtown Toronto

The brown and glass building in the background would be the Bloor/Galdstone branch. It's so gorgeous inside! Never in my life seen a library so beautifully constructed. No wonder it took 3 years to renovate!

There is a long story of CITL and this branch. When I first founded the program last summer, it became so successful that we've received requests from people regarding the startup of such a program in other libraries. Bloor/Gladstone was one of them. So I called the branch and told them about this request, hoping that the program would be accepted. Who knew that the branch just finished a three year renovation and it's rooms bookings are as popular as ever! With no rooms available to run the program, the librarians had no choice but to reject us. It was completely understandable too. At that time, I just moved on to seeking other libraries that might be interested in having the program there. I've always had a very strong faith in the program so thanks to that, being rejected by the Bloor/Gladstone librarians didn't kill my confidence. I was just a little disappointed, that's all...

Sometimes fate is just fate and things that are meant to be are just meant to be. A few months ago I received an email from a Bloor/Gladstone librarian (a different one compared to the one that I first contacted), Raymond, who was very keen on getting the chess club started at Bloor/Gladstone. Interesting how it comes to a full circle, eh? Well, here I want to give a big thank you to Raymond for making CITL possible at one of the most beautiful and high-tech libraries in Toronto! Although I've never met him in person, I can tell that he is surely one of the nicest guys out there! Another library staff to thank is Alice, the lady that took care of the volunteers and helped out with the club on Saturdays. :)

For the opening week, about 15 excited participants showed up at the program. Michael, Kevin and I were there to train the new volunteers Yeo-Jeong Kim and her brother John Kim. Welcome to the team guys!

2) North York Central Library on Yonge St. , Toronto.
This library is officially the second largest one in Toronto, ranked behind the Reference Library in downtown. It has 5 main floors in total excluding an underground one as the public study area. They are one of the branches that currently uses the self check-out system. Very user friendly, I must say! These self-serve machines are getting more and more popular that perhaps in 10 years, everything that we buy will be self-serve.

Like the Bloor/Gladstone branch, CITL and this branch has some history as well! I started contacting the youth service specialist Elsa since the beginning of this year and finally we were able to get it started! Thanks again to Elsa for all of hard work in this!

I'd also like to welcome a few new volunteers to our crew: Mike Ivanov, who will be representing Canada at the U16 Olympiad very soon and Stephanie who was retruited on the library's behalf. Of course we cannot forget about the returning ones : Stanley Su and Gal Gross. Thank you all for supporting CITL in North York Central! :)

Here are two pictures of the volunteers playing chess along with Michael and Kevin.

Although not many people showed up the first week of the program, I can happily announce that the proceeding weeks after that one were much better once we did some more promotion. Keep up the great work guys!