EVENT REPORT

See a Library Fund-Raiser Inspired by Word Games

The Toronto Public Library Foundation celebrated its 20th anniversary with an inaugural fund-raiser called the Biblio Bash.

By Amanda Scriver May 11, 2017, 12:32 PM EDT

Photo: George Pimentel

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Toronto Public Library Foundation rolled out a new fund-raising gala to support the Toronto Public Library. The inaugural Biblio Bash, which took over the Toronto Reference Library on April 27, also celebrated that particular library's 40th anniversary. The event brought together book lovers, socialites, and philanthropists to enjoy dinner in the stacks and participate in activations that used the library’s own resources.

Historically, the Toronto Public Library Foundation has hosted an annual fund-raiser called the Book Lover’s Ball. However in 2016, the foundation announced it would skip that event this year in anticipation of the two anniversaries. With the help of a volunteer committee led by chair Victoria Webster, the foundation wanted to showcase the many facets the library has to offer. “We wanted guests to enjoy a classic cocktail reception and a delicious dinner, in an unexpected environment,” said Tracy Finkelstein, director of marketing and communications for the Toronto Public Library Foundation.

With Candice & Alison leading the production and design, the foundation transformed the library into a branded, intimate event space for the fund-raiser, which sold out and was at capacity with 460 guests. “We wanted guests to really explore the spaces and check out everything that this 21st-century library has to offer,“ said Finkelstein. “Many [attendees] had not seen the most recent renovations completed in 2014." 

Finkelstein noted that interactive stations scattered throughout the space included study pods that displayed black-and-white images selected from the Toronto Star Archive Collection, 3-D printing stations that showcased the library’s Digital Innovation Hub, and a portrait studio by celebrity photographer George Pimentel.

During the dinner portion of the event, which was hosted by comedian and first-time author Mary Walsh, a selection of the library’s 170,000-piece vinyl record collection was on display. An activation by sponsor Universal Music Canada allowed guests to pick their favorite song from the collection to have it played by the DJs. 

Following the same formula as the Book Lover's Ball, 44 Canadian authors acted as table hosts during the dinner. Attendees were able to mingle with their table host, and received a copy of that particular author's book. 

For its first year, the foundation exceeded its fund-raising goal of $600,000 by $4,000, through raising funds via sponsorship, ticket sales, a silent auction, and its on-site Adopt-A-Branch fund-raising initiative. “We introduced projection mapping at the event, which allowed us to showcase words and images along the walls of the library,“ said Julie Flynn Still, director of development and strategic partnerships for the Toronto Public Library Foundation. “Not only did this highlight the Biblio Bash branding, but we were able to showcase guests who made donations by putting their name in lights and projecting them around the perimeter of the room.”

Because of the event's success, the foundation hopes to host the Biblio Bash in 2018, but hasn't set out any specific goals at this time.

Correction: The original version of this story included an incorrect attribution for the quote from Julie Flynn Still. 

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