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!

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