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Some of the biggest names on the Canadian literary scene are stepping up to defend the Toronto Public Library against the threat of branch closures, service reductions and program cutbacks. The authors have volunteered to be prizes in the My Library Matters to Me Contest sponsored by Toronto Public Library Workers Union Local 4948 (CUPE). Fifty lucky winners will be announced on Thursday, September 15.

As part of the effort to prevent Toronto library branch closures and stimulate public discussion on the importance of libraries, each of the eleven Toronto authors (listed below) has volunteered to conduct a tour of a Toronto literary site and have lunch at a restaurant of their choice with a small group of contest winners.

The contest opened August 25 and closes at 5:00 P.M., Friday, September 9, 2011.

Eligibility and how to win

All residents of Toronto are eligible, except Toronto Public Library employees and their immediate families. You do not need to own a library card. There are two categories of contestants:

1.     Children, 12 and under can enter the contest by submitting:

  • An essay in prose or verse up to 250 words in length on the topic: “Why My Library Matters to Me” or
  • A drawing on the same topic. Drawings may contain text.

2.     Everyone else (over 12) can enter by submitting:

  • An essay in prose or verse up to 500 words in length on the topic: “Why My Library Matters to Me” or
  • A video on the same topic of not more than two minutes

Complete contest rules on the website at http://ourpubliclibrary.to/contest.

Follow @mypubliclibrary on Twitter for all the latest news on the contest!

View photos from the contest launch.

Sign the petition: Keep our local libraries open and public!

Participating Authors

Joy Fielding is a New York Times Best Selling author. Her books have been published in multiple languages worldwide. She has published to date 22 novels, two of which were converted into film. Joy resides in Toronto and Palm Beach, Florida.

Philip Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan born Canadian novelist and poet. A Toronto resident, he is best known for his Booker Prize winning novel, The English Patient, which was adapted into an Academy Award winning film. He is also the recipient of the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Order of Canada.

Sylvia Fraser, born in Hamilton, is a novelist, journalist and travel writer. In 1987 she wrote the award winning My father’s house: a memoir of incest and of healing. She served on the Arts Advisory Panel to Canada Council and was a founding member of The Writers’ Union of Canada. She lives in Toronto.

Anna Porter was born in Budapest, Hungary and immigrated to Canada in 1970. Co-founder of Key Porter Books, she is a prolific journalist and has written several books. She is an Officer of The Order of Canada and has been awarded the Order of Ontario.

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She is the author of more than fifty books and her work has been published in more than forty languages. She currently lives in Toronto. She has received numerous awards including the Order of Canada, and the Governor General’s Award.

Linwood Barclay was the Toronto Star’s humour columnist for many years. A few thousand columns later, he retired from the paper in 2008 to write books full-time including No Time for Goodbye and The Accident.

Judy Fong-Bates came to Canada from China as a young child and grew up in several small Ontario towns. Her book, Midnight at the Dragon Café is the 2011 One Book Community Read for the city of Toronto.

Dr. Vincent Lam became, at 32, the youngest recipient of the Scotiabank Giller Prize with his book Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures. Dr. Lam is from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. Raised in Ottawa, Dr. Lam did his medical training in Toronto, where he now practices emergency medicine.

Robert Rotenberg is one of Toronto’s top criminal lawyers. He has written two books, Old City Hall and the Guilty Plea.

Susan Swan’s critically acclaimed fiction has been published in twenty countries. A native of southwestern Ontario, Susan Swan makes her home and garden in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood.

Jeremy Tankard is a popular award-winning children’s author, born in South Africa, but moved to Canada with his family. He illustrates his own books like Boo Hoo Bird and Grumpy Bird.