Toronto Public Library provides free and equitable access to services which meet the changing needs of Torontonians. The Library preserves and promotes universal access to a broad range of human knowledge, experience, information and ideas in a welcoming and supportive environment.

Budget Notes

Toronto Public Library (TPL) provides free and equitable access to services which meet the changing needs of Torontonians. TPL preserves and promotes universal access to a broad range of human knowledge, experience, information and ideas in a welcoming and supportive environment.

View the Toronto Public Library Program Map in greater detail.

2018 Budget Summary

The total cost to deliver these services to Toronto residents is $200.093 million gross and $180.769 million net.

Through line by line review of expenditures and service efficiencies, Toronto Public Library is able to partially offset $4.174 million in operating budget pressures arising from inflationary increases to utilities and contracted services, cost of living adjustments to wages, and prior year impacts of one-time funding reversals.

Fast Facts

  • Toronto Public Library has higher per capita visits and circulation than any other large urban public library system in the world.
  • The Library system includes 81 neighbourhood libraries, 17 district libraries, 2 research and reference libraries; for a total of 100 branches; as well as 2 service buildings and 2 bookmobiles.
  • 70% of Torontonians used the library in 2015 and 1 in 5 visit the library at least once a week.
  • In 2017, there were more than 34 million visits to and more than 910,000 participants attended 37,000 library programs.


  • Over the past 10 years (2007-2016), total library usage has increased by 22.4% from approximately 90 million to over 110 million uses annually. The total use includes both branch based activities and virtual access.
  • The number of visits is projected at 18.5 million in 2018 or 6.4 uses per capita. Total visits decreased in 2017 as a result of branch closures for renovations/retrofits, notably the closure of North York Central Library which accounts for 7.4% of total annual visits.
  • In 2015 Toronto Public Library’s operating cost per use was $1.71, ranking fourth in cost per use when compared to other Ontario public libraries.

Key Service Deliverables for 2018

Toronto Public Library offers safe and welcoming spaces at 100 branches and service levels address customer demand and areas of strategic focus.

The 2018 Operating Budget will:

  • Provide 271,683 open hours per year at 100 branches to support 18.5 million in-person visits, 5.7 million workstation users and 5.1 million wireless sessions with expanded access to technology in library branches. A review of access to technology in branches is planned to understand current and future needs.
  • Provide virtual library services to support over 36 million website visits. Services include collections, programs and access to user accounts with self-service features including online fines payment, and access to reference e-collections. Strategic directions include the redesign of the library’s virtual services for children and youth.
  • Develop and maintain a physical collection of 10.2 million items in a variety of languages, reading levels and formats including print, audio-visual and e-content to promote accessibility and respond to community needs.
  • Provide annual circulation of 31 million items and information resources to support 2 million reference requests on a variety of subjects.
  • Develop and deliver a suite of library programs to support literacy, life-long learning and access to culture with an emphasis on literacy for children and youth.

Our Key Issues & Priority Actions

  • Addressing Increased Demands – overall in-person visits has continued to increase as well as use of digital resources, remote usage of the Library’s online platform, and the library space for work, study and collaboration.
    • The introduction of new technologies, including self-service circulation and more online services, has enabled the Library to efficiently manage demand for traditional and new services.
    • The 2018 Operating Budget includes $0.805 million in efficiencies from technology projects, modernization of room rentals, and consolidation of print and serials.
  • Cost of E-Collection Services has increased as well as the demand and use of e-collections services continue to rise.
    • TPL will continue to lead the e-book advocacy campaigns around fair pricing terms to promote sustainable pricing models for libraries without undue financial risk. Technology projects such as Expansion of Technological Efficiencies include partial funding to address the increasing demand.
    • TPL will also revisit annually, opportunities to implement new technological efficiencies to achieve savings, improve customer services, and overall service levels.

2018 Operating Budget Highlights

  • The 2018 Operating Budget for Toronto Public Library is $201.607 million gross and $182.283 million net representing an increase of 1.8% to the 2017 Approved Operating Budget.
  • The Agency could not meet the Council-directed budget target of 0% due to inflationary costs. However, savings were identified through the following measures:
    • Base expenditure reductions ($1.707 million).
    • Efficiency savings ($0.805 million).
    • Revenue changes ($1.127 million).
  • Staff complement increased by 0.5 from 1,734.3 in 2017 to 1,734.8 in 2018.
  • New and Enhanced Funding of $1.514 million gross and net was approved.
  • The 2018 Operating Budget aligns with the City’s urban agenda set out in its Poverty Reduction Strategy, TO Prosperity, Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy 2020, Seniors Strategy, Youth Equity Strategy and the Middle Childhood Strategy.

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) provides free and equitable access to library services through a network of 100 branches comprised of 81 neighbourhood libraries, 17 district libraries, two research and reference libraries, two service buildings including e-branch services, to meet the changing needs of Torontonians.

The primary focus of the 2018-2027 Capital Plan totalling $266.330 million is to maintain the existing assets in a state of good repair while addressing the needs of new and growing communities through renovation, relocation and expansion of existing branches, as well as advance and improve the provision of e-services and in-branch technology through Virtual Branch Services and Technology Asset Management Replacement Program.

The 2018-2027 Capital Plan includes technology and modernization projects such as the Answerline and Community Space Rental Modernization and Expansion of Technological Efficiencies that allow TPL to achieve service efficiency savings which will decrease future year Operating Budgets by a total of $0.950 million net over the 2018 – 2027 period.

Where does the money go?

The 2018 – 2027 Capital Budget and Plan totalling $266.330 million provides funding for:

  • State of Good Repair (SOGR) projects that address ongoing renovation of existing libraries and IT infrastructure; and
  • Growth related projects that meet increased service demands in new and growing communities.
  • Major projects focus on:
    • Renovating and revitalizing existing branches;
    • Relocating and/or expanding existing branches;
    • Upgrading technology; and
    • Implementing technological innovation to support service improvements and efficiencies.

Where does the money come from?

The 10-Year Capital Plan requires:

  • Debt funding of $180.255 million (67.7%), reflecting an increase of $1.500 million above the 10-year debt affordability target to address SOGR backlog at multiple branches.
  • Funding from Development Charges ($65.394 million or 24.6%) primarily allocated to renovation and relocation projects for various libraries.
  • Reserve Fund contributions of $1.100 million or 0.4% for the Perth-Dupont Relocation
  • Other funding of $19.516 million consisting of $5.140 million of Section 37 funding, Contributions from operating funds of $13.780 million for the Technology Asset Management Program and third-party funding of $0.596 million.

State of Good Repair Backlog

The 10-Year Capital Plan includes cash flow funding of $184.510 million for State of Good Repair projects. The SOGR backlog as a per cent of asset replacement value will increase from 6.9% in 2018 to 14.9% in 2027 based on updated condition audits of TPL’s buildings.

Key Issues & Priority Actions

  • The State of Good Repair Backlog is expected to grow to $146.364 million by 2027 which represents 14.9% of the total asset replacement value.
    • 10-Year Capital Plan includes total funding of $184.510 million for SOGR with $1.500 million additional debt allocated to this category in 2018. TPL will evaluate annually the status of SOGR backlog and prioritize as needed.
  • TPL E-Services and In-Branch Technology supports self-service transactions and e-material loans daily while branches offer wireless access, public computers and 3D printing at select locations.
    • TPL will continue to refine the digital strategy to address increasing demand for digital and online services as well as more self-service options including mobile and personalized services through its Technology Asset Management Program and Virtual Branch Services and $60.164 million is included in the10-Year Capital Plan for this purpose.

2018 Capital Budget Highlights

The 2018 Capital Budget for Toronto Public Library of $28.838 million, excluding carry forward funding, will:

  • Continue renovation and expansion work at North York Central Library ($4.987 million).
  • Commence construction at St. Clair/Silverthorn, Wychwood and York Woods Libraries ($6.277 million).
  • Continue Technology Asset Management Program and Virtual Branch Services ($5.600 million).
  • Continue the Multi-Branch Renovation Program to address TPL’s growing state of good repair backlog ($6.164 million).
  • Commence work on Answerline & Community Space Rental Modernization, and Expansion of Technological Efficiencies projects that will create annual operational savings of $0.475 million in 2018 and 2019.

Toronto Public Library 2018 Budget Infographic
Toronto Public Library Infographic