Innovators, designers and storytellers got together in groups at the Toronto Reference Library on Thursday. By the end of the day, each group had to present an innovative idea for the library of the future.

Ryerson’s Transmedia Zone, Penguin Random House and the Toronto Reference Library collaborated to hold the very first #YourFry Library Design Challenge.

The hashtag #YourFry signifies a larger movement, which was inspired by Stephen Fry’s new memoir, More Fool Me.

Stephen Fry is a British writer who once said, “An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.”

All over the world, design challenges like the one held at the Toronto Reference Library, are in conjunction with Fry’s book launch.

More than 40 students from Ryerson attended the event, roughly split along loyalties to schools and departments, like journalism, architecture, digital humanities and electronics. The Ontario College of Art and Design was represented with a group too.

Ryerson’s Transmedia Zone ran the event like a work shop.

Sarah Shelson, Ryerson Transmedia Zone co-ordinator and one of the event organizers, said the purpose of the event was to bring a variety of people together to brainstorm and create futuristic ideas that could become a reality.

“Our goal with the event is to come up with actual new innovation and ideas that can get the Toronto libraries thinking, the Ryerson library thinking, and everyone thinking about what this future is and how we can get there and keep the heart of the library relevant and modern,” said Shelson.

Its purpose is to share the love of storytelling for future generations while finding a way to spark new conversations and innovative ideas.

The fabrication and electronics group used a 3D printer to showcase its wearable library card, one that’s customizable to whatever literary theme the wearer wishes. Among others, the group printed a 3D golden snitch from the popular fantasy book series, Harry Potter.

Loren Sancartier, a participant in the group, said, “You wear it and it acts like a digital archive for the library wherever you go.”

“The idea here is you can build a dome around yourself and have a quiet reading space,” she added.

Some of the designs were based in the near future, such as using the library as a database that archives the memories of each individual’s lifelong history, set for 2030.

Others were designed for 2080 and included a chip system to be implanted in the user’s wrist, which lets you tap wrists with others to share books and to communicate with authors.

Ryerson’s Transmedia Zone will submit the most innovative design of the seven to YourFry. From there, select entries from around the world will make it to Stephen Fry and his panel of friends.

According to, they will award “notable creations” to be broadcasted around the world with WeTransfer, an online file-transfer platform.

Those entries will also receive a Penguin Fry Innovation stamp of recognition. The project ends December 1.

Click here to see our live blog of the event.

With files from Rachel Surman


Rebecka Calderwood was a reporter and the Arts & Life editor for The Ryersonian. In the past she's worked for Toronto music blogs Anchor Shop and livemusicTO and the CBC Manitoba. She's defined by the people she's met, places she's been and things she's experienced. Find her on social media for all of the above. Rebecka graduated from the Ryerson School of Journalism in 2015. – @persbecktives.