Toronto - Toronto Reference Library, a cultural centre at the heart of the city, today began a revitalization project that will transform the library over the next five years. This is the first significant renovation to the library since it opened in 1977. The library will remain open during construction.

The first phase of the revitalization is the construction of an events space to mount large- scale programs, conferences and community events. This project will create new and innovative spaces for the public exchange of ideas and will reinforce the Toronto Reference Library's position as a key provider of cultural activities in the city.

"Public libraries are vital to Toronto's cultural and economic health, and Toronto Reference Library in particular is a cornerstone of city life," said Linda Mackenzie, Director of Research and Reference Libraries at Toronto Public Library. "There is an increased appetite for cultural programming and live debate in Toronto and the library is responding to this demand with this project."

Toronto Reference Library recently celebrated its 30th anniversary with special programming designed to alert Torontonians to the important role the library plays in the life of the city. The programs, featuring renowned authors and personalities, were very well-received and well-attended, and reinforced the high level of interest in cultural events and civic engagement at the library.

The building's original architects, Moriyama and Teshima, are responsible for the redesign. They will retain the architectural beauty of the landmark building while creating a striking and bold design for the future geared to meet the needs of 21st century library users. New elements will complement traditional spaces to respond to the range of library uses and users.

The $30 million revitalization project will be funded through a combination of public and private sources. The private sector fundraising campaign will be led by the Toronto Public Library Foundation, a registered charity, and represents the most significant capital funding campaign in the library's history.

"Libraries around the world are embarking upon capital projects at unprecedented rates as more and more people realize the essential role they play in urban economic, civic and literary health," said Heather Rumball, President of the Toronto Public Library Foundation. "We're looking forward to engaging Torontonians and encouraging them to support the Reference Library as it grows to keep pace with our rapidly evolving city." The Toronto Reference Library revitalization campaign will be publicly launched in mid-2009

Toronto Public Library is the world's busiest urban public library system. Every year, more than 17 million people visit our 99 branches and borrow more than 30 million items. To learn more about Toronto Public Library, call Answerline at 416-393-7131.

The Toronto Public Library Foundation believes in the social benefits of a strong and healthy public library system. As a registered charity, we foster relationships with people of vision to provide Toronto's Library with improved and expanded collections, enhanced programs and services, and revitalized community spaces.