Winners Announced For Toronto’s Startup Weekend: Library Edition

Toronto’s Startup Weekend: Library Edition has announced winners of the intense 54-hour hackathon challenge to brainstorm and build new tools and apps for libraries.

The idea behind the winning Hub widget is to kick a regular library search up a notch by providing local community knowledge and data. When people search for “gardening” in a library catalogue, a listing for a local community garden or a gardening group meetup would appear, alongside book titles and other resources. Libraries would be able to adjust the real-life resources Hub would show, specific to the branch location and community.

The weekend must’ve warmed quite a few nerdy hearts, as it was the world’s first library-focused version of the Startup Weekend program, designed specifically to address challenges experienced by libraries.

“My first experience with a Startup Weekend was as a participant, listening to the pitches and joining the team. I work at a university, and we spend a lot of time talking and doing research. Startup weekend exposed me to the new style of working where you try an idea, even if it seems crazy,” said M.J. D’Elia, one of the librarians on the organizing team.

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SpaceValet scored the second prize. It’s a mobile app that would help students find suitable spaces to study on campus. RaisinReaders, a mobile app for parents to track their kids’ reading milestones and connect with librarians and other parents, picked up the third prize.

Other interesting ideas included a library dating app, a network of shareable community libraries around the city, like this cool book vending machine in Barrie, and crowdsourcing a catalogue of erotic scenes in books. “It’s always great to take chances and just have fun, code, and see what we can come up with,” a developer and recent Bitmaker Labs graduate Kyle Bachan told BetaKit. “People are more creative when they’re working under pressure.”

While some ideas never make it to the market, the safe playground for testing ideas makes everyone feel like they’ve taken a crash course on entrepreneurship, programming, knowledge management, and design. Startup Weekend is a global event series that took place in 478 cities around the world and helped launch 8,190 startups to date.

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Next Startup Weekend on our radar is set to take place in Waterloo this weekend, April 4-6.


Elena Yunusov

Elena Yunusov works at the intersection of digital communications and experience design. She is known in Toronto’s startup community as a HoHoTO & Toronto Maker Faire co-organizer. She likes coffee, robots, and wearable tech.

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