Toronto Library uses social media to keep people reading

The Internet isn't killing reading, it's encouraging it

A TTC commuter reading, April 2013 during Keep Toronto Reading month 

It’s the typical morning commute. For many residents of the city of Toronto that means taking the TTC.  To pass the time, many choose to read, whether it’s a newspaper, a novel or an e-book on their iPad.

This year, many of them may be reading the same book: the 1951 Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451, as part of the Toronto Public Library’s Keep Toronto Reading month.

Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen of Mississauga checks her cellphone and computer multiple times during the day, even at work, to keep up with the new #OneBookTTC discussions which the Library is running on Twitter.

“A lot of the time, I hear people talking about technology (e-books in particular) as a threat to books and to reading, so I love that #OneBookTTC uses technology to celebrate books and to enhance the experience of reading,” she said.

Screen shot of Twitter chat about Fahreinheit 451 for Toronto Public Library's One Book Club, April 2013.

Screen shot of Twitter chat about Fahreinheit 451 for Toronto Public Library’s One Book Club, April 2013.

Qua-Hiansen also runs a successful book review blog titled “Literary Treats”.

Hiansen says the One Book Club works nicely.

“It’s like a book club on Twitter, with its reach expanded into the physical world, ” she said.

For the eighth year in a row, the Toronto Public Library has brought back it’s Keep Toronto Reading Festival. The festival, which started in 2006, is meant to be a showcase of reading, with over 100 events at over 60 branches across the city  during the month of April.

Just as many more libraries across Canada are turning to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to spread the message of how important literacy is, so, too is the Toronto Public Library.

During the festival, the library has integrated two different social media activities via Twitter. Their One Book TTC city-wide book club is currently reading Fahrenheit 451 and conducting live Twitter chats.

People can reply via the hashtag #OneBookTTC or #KeepTorontoReading.

A commuter reads on the TTC, April 2013, during Keep Toronto Reading month.

A commuter reads on the TTC, April 2013, during Keep Toronto Reading month.

The book Fahrenheit 451 was chosen because of its connection to mass media. The novel is set in a future where books are outlawed and firemen burn homes that contain books.

Abe Velasco, communications officer for Toronto Public Library, describes the idea behind One Book TTC.

“We post the questions on Twitter and encourage people to engage through that platform. We have a total of nine questions spread over three weeks. The One Stop Media boards located on every TTC subway platform flash every 10 minutes with the Twitter feed,” he explained.

Their Twitter page currently has over 16,000 followers.

According to Velasco, participation via Twitter is high. It varies on the question being asked, but the more well-received questions have received 50 to 100 responses each.

“In the two years that we’ve partnered on the TTC One Book Club with Pattison Onestop Media, we’ve found that the questions that are tied to the broader themes of our One Book – as opposed to the specific details – allow those who haven’t read the book to participate in the discussion. In turn, we perhaps pique their interest to pick up the book,” he said.

All of the questions are in relation to the themes explored in Fahrenheit 451.

And this month, it’s not just commuters who are engaging with the One Book program. Approximately 1,000 students across the city are reading and discussing the book in their classrooms.

The partnership, which started out originally with only 4 schools participating, has expanded to 35 this year.

According to Velasco this year’s festival is the biggest to take place so far and the response has been tremendous. The festival runs until April 30.

More information on Keep Toronto Reading can be found at

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About this article

By: Tarah Bleier
Posted: Apr 17 2013 2:01 am
Filed under: News