Jan 15, 2021

By Christine Ross

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It took a pandemic to expose the shocking extent of isolation and loneliness among seniors, prompting a call to action for many including staff at the Toronto Public Library. A simple wellness check-in with seniors has become a lifeline to many.

COVID lockdowns forced branches to close, creating even more isolation for the thousands of seniors who use the Toronto Public Library system.

“This is just one way that we thought we could connect with people to let them know we’re thinking about them,” says Kim Huntley, North York Central Library Manager.

She says staff across the system are calling more than 20,000 senior library users for a quick check-in, a wellness check.

“People have used words to us like this has been a lifeline throughout these hard times, it’s the social upside to my day.”

The five to ten minute calls are also an opportunity for staff to help seniors search the library resources that have moved online amid the pandemic.

“Most of the seniors are really pleasantly surprised that we’re calling them, they never expected that from their library,” says Emoke Gall, a librarian at North York Central Library. Gall started making weekly calls this past summer and says to many, it’s been a lifeline.

“They might tell me about how they’ve used the library throughout their life or fond childhood memories of the library.”

The response has been overwhelming.

“They say without TPL, this would have been a prison sentence,” adds Huntley.

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