CITL History

Chess in the Library was founded by Yuanling Yuan at Brookbanks library in Toronto in June 2009 after her freshman year at high school. She had envisioned to start a volunteer program to promote chess in the community free of charge to participating members. This program would run weekly in public libraries and volunteers would setup and manage each session.


Starting Out (2009)

After opening the program at Brookbanks, she quickly gained support from the community. In just a couple months, the program at Brookbanks reached capacity. To help build and run the CITL program, Yuanling recruited volunteers from her school and chess team. Furthermore, the program received generous donations from various individuals and the funds were used to purchase chess sets for new locations and tournaments. After the success at Brookbanks, a few libraries quickly became interested in running the program as well. By the end of 2009, CITL already expanded to five locations in Toronto with the help of CITL volunteers. The CITL website was also set up during this time.

More information about the start of CITL program could be found here on Yuanling’s former blog.

Brookbanks 2009

 First CITL Branch – Brookbanks

CITL Website 2010

 Former site design by Yutong Luo


Expansion and CITL Festival (2010-2012)

The year 2010 marked steady growth for the program. By June, the tenth location, Bridlewood Library, was running the program. Many more volunteers joined CITL this year to help manage the program. CITL also hosted its first annual chess festival at North York Central Library in June. The festival was a round-robin tournament that saw over 50 participants in three different age groups. Since then, the festival has been held at NYCL every year in June.

In the same year, CITL also expanded to other regions such as Etobicoke, Ottawa, and even Victoria in British Columbia. By the time the first executive board was formed, there were over 20 active volunteers. The first executive board in 2010 saw Yuanling as the president, Michael Kleinman as the vice president, and Kevin Wu as the executive director. At this point each library saw 20-30 participants each week, totalling to around 250 people participating in the CITL program. By the end of the year, CITL reached a total of 15 libraries.

In 2011-2012, CITL continued to expand the regions such as Barrie and even reached a branch in Washington D.C. CITL also started regional tournaments held semi-annually in Toronto. By this time, there were 17 branches running the program in Toronto.

Bridlewood 2010

 Tenth CITL Branch – Bridlewood

CITL Third Festival

 Third CITL Festival, 2012


Consolidation (2013-2015)

As volunteers graduated from high school and move on to other opportunities, new volunteers stepped in to help run the program. Yuanling graduated in 2012 and stepped down from the president position after 3 years of leading CITL. In the following years, CITL saw continued expansion in some regions under the leadership of Vivek Chachcha and Mohit Verma. Unfortunately, despite CITL’s efforts, it was not possible to replace many of the volunteers who have graduated at some libraries. While a few libraries left the program, many resources were dedicated to the popular CITL locations in order to solidify the program at those branches. The program still had large number of members at its some of its branches, reaching up to 30-50 weekly participants at popular branches such as Bridlewood.

CITL Festival 2013

 Fourth CITL Festival, 2013

West Regional Tournament 2014

West Regional Tournament, 2014


As of July 2015, there are 20 libraries running the CITL program. In the year 2016-2017, the executive board hopes to consolidate the membership of current libraries and recruit new volunteers under the President Kristen Li.

For more detailed information about Chess in the Library’s history, visit or


This brief history was compiled on July 30, 2015 by the CITL team and was last revised on October 30, 2016