Toronto Public Library: Honoring a mission to meet community needs

For over 200 years, the Toronto Public Library has been at the center of Toronto’s growth and progress. Today it is the largest public library system in Canada and has the largest neighborhood-based library system in the world. As early as the 1830s, job training was a core part of the library’s mission, a mission they still carry today.

Recognizing the barriers when it comes to digital access and digital literacy, which are quickly becoming critical to living and working in today’s workforce, the Toronto Public Library became the first public library system in North America to become a certified Networking Academy.

"We recognize that there can be barriers when it comes to accessing IT training and technology. By partnering with Cisco Networking Academy, we hope to expand access to valuable learning opportunities and increase opportunities for growth and success for library customers.” -Vickery Bowles, Toronto Public Library Librarian.

As a Networking Academy, the Toronto Public Library can offer any courses from the extensive curriculum. As an academy they can even take advantage of virtual simulation tools for learners, also available free of charge and accessible remotely.

A Three Phased Approach

Working in partnership with Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS), and George Brown College, the library created a three-phase program to bring Networking Academy to its diverse community.

Launched in 2018, phase one is based on Networking Academy Fundamentals courses: Introduction to IoT, Introduction to Cybersecurity and Linux Unhatched. All courses are offered for free and online, allowing community members to get a broad understanding of what is possible within these emerging fields.

In phase two, the library will add Learning Circles to the program. These in-person sessions will give people the opportunity to sit down with a Networking Academy instructor from George Brown College to ask questions about the subjects they’ve been studying. Phase three, expands the program to add more courses from the Networking Academy curriculum, such as Linux Essentials and Programming Essentials in Python.

"We knew that the Networking Academy courses would be a perfect match for the library and the communities it serves. They’ve taken some of the hottest areas of technology—like IoT and Analytics and Cybersecurity—and created self-paced courses that people with zero experience in technology can take.” - Jorge Olenewa.

The Toronto Public Library’s Networking Academy courses lend hope to people who feel ill equipped to participate in a technology-centric world. It can change their belief that they can’t prosper in a digital economy.