Thunder Bay Public Library: 2023 Report to the Community

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2023 REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY ON THE INSIDE Message from the Board Chair and CEO ............. 2 Board and Staff .............................................................. 3 Library Facilities Planning ......................................... 4 Budget & Supporters ................................................... 5 Partnerships .................................................................... 6 Services ............................................................................ 7 Programs .......................................................................... 8 Collections ....................................................................... 9 Special Events ................................................................ 10 Friends of the Library .................................................. 11 A Thank You to our Donors ........................................ 12 In 2023, your Library... hosted more than 1.171 million visits loaned over half a million books & educational tools planned and hosted 2,146 programs free to the public Community Feedback The Library is more than a place where you can borrow a book. It brings people together to talk and share their talents. With technology being such an important way of communicating these days, the Library has expanded and embraced it.

Message from the Board Chair and CEO 2023


2023 was a year of growth and reinvention at the Library. The Board approved a new Strategic Plan which gets the Library back to basics. Five key pillars include ‘Facility Revitalization’, creating an ‘Innovative Service Culture’, a focus on ‘Knowledge Sharing’, an emphasis on ‘Indigenous Collaboration' and growing our user base by ‘Cultivating Library Membership’.

In June of 2023 we received City Council’s endorsement of our new Master Facilities Plan that involves the creation of a new Central Library. The Library goes back to City Council in June 2024 to have our plans finalized and financing secured for the effort to revitalize our facilities. Check out page four for more details.

Library staff were reorganized to best create an innovative service culture. We launched a new Head Librarian role and, working closely with our unions, redesigned our jobs to put our patrons at the heart of our planning processes. You can expect a lot of new and creative programs to bring in new Library users and re-engage the community.

We’re putting in place new tools to keep us accountable to the public. New metrics and feedback mechanisms will allow Library users a direct path to shaping the future of our programs, services, collections and spaces. We’ve been meeting with dozens of community groups to understand how we can share knowledge, resources and skills to maximize our local dollars and get great returns for the community.

2023 was the start of a transformational process that we look forward to continuing throughout 2024.

Libraries are a vital part of a healthy community. They are one of the few free and safe public spaces that are welcome to all. They offer information and programs to young parents and children, immigrants, the elderly, job searchers, First Nations peoples, and the arts community. Libraries display information that promotes civic involvement in elections, in arts activities such as Magnus and the Symphony, and help direct marginalized citizens to social services. They are one of the few places that welcome ALL citizens.

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Board and Staff 2023


Library Board

These members from the community and City Council are proud to represent community interests until 2026:

Carol Grieve, Board Chair

Jane Todd, Vice Chair

Cory Bagdon

Kelly Fettes

Councillor Trevor Giertuga

Syed Kabir

Sarah Lewis

Charmaine McCraw

Councillor Michael Zussino

Library Management

Richard Togman, CEO

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas, Head Librarian

Cherri Braye, Director of Resources

Tina Maronese, Director of Community Development

Meagan Ross, Associate Director, Development

Chris Gratton, Facilities Manager

Kim Gunn, Human Resources Manager

Raili Roy, Marketing Manager

Mary Akis, Executive Assistant

Library services, collections, programs, and facility work are implemented by our talented and hardworking staff, comprised of 7 Librarians, 16 Technicians, and 63 Customer Service, Administration, and Facilities staff.

Investing in Staff Training

In addition to regular training in health and safety and other regulatory training, Library staff had many opportunities to add to their knowledge by participating in various workshops and clinics, such as:

 Diversity Thunder Bay guest speaker, Shakil Choudhury - Deep Diversity: A Compassionate Approach to Racial Justice & Equity

 Mental Health First Aid Training

 Harm Reduction and Naloxone Training

 Ontario Library Association Superconference

 Staff Development Day and staff forums for team building and shared learning

Community Feedback

The Reference Team at the Library was instrumental in helping me with research for my book. They provided me with HOURS of assistance, looking up articles on microfiche, and emailing everything to me. I could not have done this work myself. They have saved me so much time and trouble, and I am eternally grateful to them for offering this service. Many people don't realize that Libraries are for so much more than simply "borrowing books." They have dozens of other services, programs, and features. More people need to know this!

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Library Master Facilities Plan

Master Facilities Plan & Central Library Update

Since receiving approval from City Council in June 2023 for our Master Facilities Plan, we’ve been working hard to deliver on the promise of reinvention. Our plans include a strong number of neighbourhood branches and the creation of a new Central Library.

2023 REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY Community Feedback

The Central Library is so much more than a Library - it’s core community infrastructure. It includes a dynamic new space for children to play, learn and grow. It has a dedicated youth zone where teens can gather, explore new opportunities and be safe. It serves as a hub for multiple community organizations serving the full spectrum of community needs. It is a space for those on low income to get access to computers, internet and digital technology and bring their families to a welcoming, free space. It’s an ideal environment for seniors to thrive and stay engaged. It’s a foundational space for Indigenous people to gather and collaborate in a culturally appropriate place.

Our new plans have a huge level of support. Public surveys show the vast majority of residents voting YES to a Central Library and an active willingness to spend the money to make it a reality. Letters of support are pouring in from community groups representing a huge cross-section of our city. Public engagement sessions scheduled throughout May will see large numbers come out to see the architectural designs and take in the new vision. With City Council voting on the funding package in June, it’s a thrilling time to be at the Library.

There is something for everyone at the Central Library. It meets a critical need for active indoor space and programming for children, addresses a chronic shortage of dedicated youth space in our city, and provides an accessible and welcoming space for seniors. It offers a safe and educational outlet for those living with low income and opens up opportunities for adults to learn, socialize and grow.

The Central Library is truly unique in offering whole family activities in a dynamic mixeduse location in the centre of our community.

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Financial Summary for 2023


City of Thunder Bay

Province of Ontario

One Time Grants




Fundraising $156,570

Other Revenue $264,969

Total Revenue


Salary & Benefits

In 2023, your Library ...



Library Services & Collections $829,248

Capital Expenditures $330,752

Buildings & Equipment

$ 450,661

Administration & Supplies $2,857,753

Total Expenditures



Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation

KM Hunter Foundation

John Andrews Foundation

United Way of Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Community Foundation

In 2023, Library ... WiFi was used 99,968 times was used more than 8,183 times per day


Community Feedback

I visited the desk yesterday and approached your staff with a question and request for reading options for my wife.

The direction, insight, and knowledgeable help I received from Laura was exceptional!!

Thank you and simply wanting to share with you.

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Budget & Supporters

Partnerships 2023


The Thunder Bay Public Library seeks to amplify community benefits by partnering with and supporting a wide range of local organizations. Through our regular work we actively help other organizations achieve their goals.

Sheridan College & the Indigenous Community

Based on the success of a similar project done at the Brodie branch in 2020, the Library welcomed students from Sheridan College’s furniture program back to Thunder Bay in January 2023 to work with the local Indigenous community. All participants collaboratively designed the new beautiful and functional new furniture for the Waverley Indigenous Knowledge Centre.

Partnerships with Service Providers at Brodie

As a community hub it is important to help our patrons access the services they need. With this in mind, the Thunder Bay Public Library forged partnerships with local social service providers to have them offer their services at Brodie. Partners include organizations such as the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre, Alpha Court, the Canadian Mental Health Association, NorWest Community Health Centres, and more!

The Business Community

TBPL is dedicated to supporting organizations that uplift the local small business community such as the CEDC, the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre and PARO. We support them by providing their clients with market research workshops and access to knowledgeable Library staff who are eager to help entrepreneurs with accessing market research data. The Library also provides free access to powerful market research databases like SimplyAnalytics and Data Axle Canadian Businesses (formerly InfoCanada).

Science North

Another key partner for the Library is Science North. Mary J.L. Black Library hosts the Northern Nature Trading site, and the Brodie Library hosts the Think Hub. We also work with Science North by participating in the Thunder Bay Science Festival and offering other science based programming.

Community Feedback

I am a huge Library proponent and supporter, as well as a patron. Library services, in my opinion, are essential to our community.

Carry on, everyone - you're doing a fabulous job!

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New Website Coming in 2024!

The Library was approved for $50K in funding from the Community Services Recovery Fund in 2023. This funding was earmarked for a massive overhaul of our website, event registration system and catalogue! Find it at

City of Thunder Bay Surveys

In 2023, the Library helped to distribute hard copies of several City of Thunder Bay surveys that were primarily being offered online. We were happy to assist in making sure that these surveys were accessible to the whole community. TBPL also made these surveys readily accessible on our public computer stations.

Chamber Business Awards Nominations

The TBPL was nominated for two Awards of Excellence from the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce in 2023! We are proud to have been nominated for both the Looking Good and the Quality of Life Award!

Library Food Drive for the RFDA

The Thunder Bay Public Library participated in a food drive to benefit the Regional Food Distribution Association. All Library locations accepted donations of non-perishable food items during the month of April and again in the Fall.

Community Feedback

I use the Library to borrow audiobooks every week. I see all ages and a great diversity in the uses of the Library. I also know that the other branches are frequently used by many marginalized people, elderly, new comers etc.

In 2023, 3,920 people applied for new library cards

The Library is one of the few services in the community that is free and provides many opportunities to have a safe space to be and to encourage mental and emotional growth.

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Programs 2023

The Library offered a wide variety of programming for people of all ages at our four Library locations.

 810 Adult Programs  252 Youth Programs

 1,084 Children’s Programs  58 Indigenous Programs

 53 Seniors Programs

In total, 39,087 people participated in Library programs in 2023!

TD Summer Reading Club (SRC)

This popular summer program to prevent the summer slide in reading skills was offered at all four library locations.


Two hundred & fifty children aged 0-5 and 300 school aged children registered to take part in this valued weekly drop in program. At the end of the summer, we celebrated the kids success with super fun parties for all ages.

Program Highlights!

TBPL programming staff hosted a wildly successful first Puppy Perks storytime event at Brodie, which resulted in some very upbeat coverage on CBC's The National, and Superior Morning!

Reading Buddies, a one-on-one literacy program for students in grades 1, 2 and 3, was offered again for the first time since the pandemic interruption.

I would like to comment on what a great asset the Library is to our community. I have been visiting this branch for several years with my four young grandchildren and am absolutely delighted with the services provided. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful and they offer great encouragement to young readers. I credit the Library staff with nurturing a love of reading in my grandchildren. I especially appreciate the helpful advice when a child has finished a particular series of books.

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Free Passes to the Art Gallery, Thunder Bay Museum, and Fort William Historical Park Now Available


TBPL patrons can now borrow passes to visit the Fort WIlliam Historical Park. You can now take your family to explore the history of the fur trade in our region for free! Library members were also thrilled to be able to check out free passes with their Library cards for entry to Ontario Provincial Parks, the Art Gallery and the Thunder Bay Museum.

These partnerships continue in 2024.

Childrens’ French Collection Expanded

Thanks to support from the Friends of the Library, our French Childrens’ collection has been refreshed and expanded! Drop in to any of our branches to borrow and read the new titles.

Board Games Collection Expanded

Waverley has expanded its Board Game collection to include games like The Red Dragon Inn, The Isle of Cats, and Spirit Island. Our collection now has over 100 games to borrow!

Welcome Baby Booklet Published

Welcome Baby Booklets, produced by the Library with the assistance of our wonderful programming staff, have now been made available to local Midwives and the Maternity Centre as part of the “We Welcome You” program. Administered by Communities Together for Children, the Welcome Baby Booklets will be delivered to all families with new babies over the course of the next year or more. They contain a coupon for a new board book, courtesy of the Friends of the Library and the Thunder Bay Community Foundation.

Community Feedback

I'm just getting in touch to thank the staff at the Thunder Bay Public Library... your Local History & Genealogy resources have come in handy! My daughter just came home from school today with an Ellis Island/ family tree project she's working on for her Social Studies class. Her teacher asked the class to put together a report exploring where their family came from. You listed some wonderful resources to cite in the report -- we really appreciate the help!

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Special Events 2023

Event Hosting

The moveable shelves that the Library installed in the last couple of years have provided us with very flexible public spaces that allow us to host big events at our two larger downtown locations.

Community Conversation - Crime and Public Safety


In October, the Library hosted it's first in a series of Community Conversations. The featured topic was “How do we make our city safe?” The event featured guest panelists who answered questions about crime and public safety which were submitted by the community. The evening was moderated by Library CEO, Richard Togman and featured a cross section of community panelists, including Chief of Fort William First Nation, Michele Solomon, Chief of the Thunder Bay Police Service, Darcy Fleury, Executive Director of Elevate NWO, Holly Gauvin, and CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Jennifer Hyslop. Audience members also had the opportunity to participate in a Q & A session.

This was the first in a series of community conversations that the Library plans to host and, judging by the packed house, people want more programs like this!

Craft Revival

The Library was a host site for the Holiday Craft Revival event and the Spring Craft Revival. We hosted more than a dozen vendors on the main floor at the Waverley Library and provided children’s activities and a program on the lower level. Almost 1,700 shoppers came through the Library over the two days! TBPL is proud to support crafters, artisans and the local economy.

We have used and continue to use the Thunder Bay Public Library to nourish the interests of each of my family members. The newest cookbooks to non-fiction history, graphic novels, classics and DVDs. Most of our interests are fulfilled by the services here. We often use the public spaces for events as well. The TBPL is so important to us, our education and our connection to our community.

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Friends of the Library 2023


To say 2023 was a busy year for the Friends of the Thunder Bay Public Library would be an understatement. Their incredible work resulted in a total of $30,000 being donated to the Library.

The biggest news was the move of the Friends’ bookstore to our Brodie branch! The Friends’ volunteers packed up hundreds of boxes from the store in Victoriaville where they had been located for over 30 years. Over the summer, volunteers arranged shelving, unpacked and shelved books, and set up the store to be a bright and welcoming space. The grand opening was held on October 17th during Ontario Public Library Week and as part of our Customer Appreciation Day. We are thrilled to be sharing space with the Friends.

In the midst of packing up the store at Victoriaville, the Friends held a hugely successful vinyl sale in April. Hundreds of records were sold and over $8,000 was raised.

There are over 50 volunteers that give their time working in the bookstore, driving book bags to those who can’t get to the Library, and helping at the Superior Shores charity bingos. We would like to thank them, as well as the executive, for their tireless efforts to raise money for the Library. The 2023 Executive Committee consisted of:

Fran Duke, President

Joanne Petrisano, Treasurer

Pam Cain, Secretary Pauline Parker, Director

The Friends are always looking for more volunteers. If you or someone you know is interested in helping out, please contact

Thank you, Friends of TBPL!

The Friends of the Thunder Bay Public Library is a non-profit association of public service minded volunteers who are dedicated to promoting and supporting public library service in Thunder Bay.

Friends of the Library annual activities include:

 Bingos

 Used Bookstore

 Home Delivery of Books to those unable to get to the library

 Special Events & Book Sales

 Raffle and Ticket Sales

Interested in volunteering with the Friends? Go to

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A Thank You to Our Donors! 2023


Platinum Donors

Gerald Apperly

Maurice & Jacqueline Black

Sam Biggs & Ravi Dhaliwal

Iris Hartog

Bruce & Eda Leaman

John & Janeen Mann

Elizabeth Mazurski

John Randle

Rose N Crantz Roasting Co.

Gold Plus Donors

Carol Barry

George Cherwonick

Carol Daniher

Michael Dyck

Jean Engholm

Patrick & Dianne Fenlon

Pamela Johnson

Brodie Marshall

Vaughn & Susan McGregor

John & Virginia Mill

Justice W.D. Newton

Graham & Nancy Post

Janice Redden

Richard Rinn

Deborah Scharf

Gold Donors

Linda Bukovy

Dennis & Marissa Buset

Michele Friday

Joan Grassi

Harbour House Children's Dental Care

Susan Marrier

Silvia Pedron

Don & Gail Rosengren

Roberta Welbourne

Silver Donors

Kirsten Addison

Jonah Anderson


Cheryl Ball

Barry Beaupre

Li Bian

Paul & Margaret Capon

Brooke Carfagnini

Ron Clark

Audrey Cormier

Ginny Czaczkowski

Valerie Dennison

Molly Denson

Mary Louise Doig

Andrew Dziubinski

Daniel Fontaine

Robert Foster

Mary Gardam

Tanis Gardner

John Glazier

James Green

Al Harper

Timo & Arja Hiiback

Shirley & Greg Hookham

Robert Hughdie

Susan Ivany

Sylvia Kayzer

Marie Keeler

Rose Kendall

Margaret Looney

Rosalind Maki

Lindsay McClenaghan

Glen & Cheryl McLeod

Marlene McRobb

Ontario Genealogical Society

Reijo Peltoniemi

Hilda Postenka

Debra & Peter Spooner

Linda Penner & Bruce Thacker

Nancy Treloar

Margaret Wanlin

Rachel Warburton

Pat Warywoda

We are grateful to each and every one of our donors. Due to limitations of space, we have included those who donated at Silver level and above. was visited 1,171,804 times In 2023, your Library ...

Thank YOU!

Monthly Donors


Georgina Adderly

Marie Appleton

Karen Arblaster

Kara Babcock

Therese Beaupre-Cerutti

Adele Blankenbaker

Cherri Braye

Jennifer Dagsvik

Frances Doran-Bonk

Genevieve Dorland

Wayne Fletcher

Veronica Fummerton

Arley Gibbons

Sarah Green

Sylvia Hegge

William Hodgson

Anita Jean

Lucie Lavoie

Zephyrus Leif

Susan Lester

Theresa Lind

Bryan & Anne MacLeod

Deb Maki

Sheri & Ryan Maltais

John & Janeen Mann

Tina Maronese

Lynne Martin

Steven McAuley

Charmaine McCraw

Jil Meyer

Sheila Miller

Catherine Mochrie

Ana Mucklow

Jessie Myllyaho

Sarah Nix

Karen Nystrom

Saara Rizzo

Meagan Ross

Raili Roy

Richard Togman

Ryan Weston

Caitlin Wheatley

Raili & John Zgrych

Lu Zhao

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