Labour Relations during COVID-19: A Public Library Board Discussion now available. View via LearnHQ.
Please consult the FAQ for more information about holding library board meetings by remote participation and for information regarding COVID-19.

Governance HUB

Resources, training, and information for members of Ontario's public library boards

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The Four Year Board Cycle

10 Things to Know




The Governance HUB is organized around a 4-year life cycle for public library boards, aligned with Ontario’s 4-year board and council terms. Below you will see the theme and some sample topics for each of the 4 years.

By no means prescriptive, the 4-year cycle is designed to offer boards suggestions for developing a work plan. A balanced work plan should consider the board’s education needs as well as the scheduling of tasks to meet the intended goals of the board.

You can access the resources by clicking on any one of the Year Boxes below.

Resources to assist with board orientation are part of Year 1 and include suggestions for successfully orienting new board members.





What are the rules for holding a library board meeting by virtual/remote participation?
SOLS and OLS-North staff have prepared the following document that outlines things to consider when holding a public library board meeting electronically.
Find more information and resources on COVID-19 guide for libraries.


This webinar will focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on labour and employment relations at public libraries, specifically from a Board perspective. We (SOLS, OLS-N, OLBA, and FOPL) have been engaged and listening to what has been going on across the province. There are many questions being asked, and it was made clear that it would be helpful to have legal experts on a call to discuss the current challenges that library boards are facing with respect to their workforce. Please keep in mind that our guest speakers will NOT be providing binding legal advice on this call. They have kindly agreed to spend some time discussing questions and topics within their areas of expertise to help library board members hopefully get some clarity on things like terminology and recent responses to labour and employment situations they have experienced.

Guest Speakers:
Martin Addario, Partner, Hicks Morley
Stephanie Jeronimo, Partner, Hicks Morley

Given that there were recent changes to the Public Libraries Act, a revisit of the legislation seems prudent and timely. Join OLS – North and SOLS consultants on a guided tour of the Act and what it means in practical terms for the library’s governance and oversight of services and operations.

This is a recording of the live webinar that was held on March 9, 2020.


Join a staff member and board member from London Public Library for a discussion about the public library board’s role in the financial management and stewardship of the library. Emphasizing the public library board’s role in ensuring good governance, this webinar highlights the kind of information boards need to make informed decisions and the questions that boards should ask of staff related to the library’s finances and budget.

Our Presenters:

Emily Schinbein, Director, Financial Services, London Public Library
James Shelley, Board Member, London Public Library Board

New and returning board members benefit from governance training in addition to having access to good information. To aid in your board’s early orientation, OLS – North and SOLS are offering a recorded webinar on the topic of Governance Fundamentals (Duration: 25 minutes).

This webinar covers topics such as the legislative context of the library board, the authority of the library board, the appointment of officers, the management of meetings, including open and closed meeting processes, as well as begin to discuss roles and responsibilities for policy-making and planning.

Download slides

NB: In December 2019, an amendment to the Public Libraries Act reduced the number of board meetings required. Whereas Section 16(1) used to call for “monthly meetings from January to June and September to December”, that section of the PLA now reads: “A board shall hold at least seven regular meetings in each year”.

From April to October 2019, SOLS and OLS-North staff provided in-person governance workshops at several locations throughout Ontario.

These 3-hour sessions were an opportunity for new and returning board members and CEOs to:

  • Learn about governance best practices that support informed decision-making and strategic oversight.
  • Find new approaches to doing things and ways to improve board functioning and decision-making.
  • Network and participate in valuable discussion.
A webinar version of the workshop is available below.


Download slides

Download handouts



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The provincial government funds two public library support agencies: the Ontario Library Service-North (OLS – North) and the Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS). OLS-North and SOLS deliver programs and services on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport by increasing co-operation and co-ordination among public library boards and other information providers, and to promote the provision of library services to the public by assisting public library boards with services and programs that reflect their needs, including consulting, training and development services.

The Ontario Library Association (OLA) is the oldest continually-operating non-profit library association in Canada, with over 5,000 members comprised of library staff and supporters from the public, school, academic, and special libraries. The Ontario Library Boards' Association (OLBA) is a division of OLA that represents public library board members (trustees) on issues relating to their areas of responsibility.  The work of the OLBA is primarily to build a professional development (training) program that is responsive to common issues of common concern


The Federation of Ontario Public Libraries (FOPL) represents 246 public library systems in Ontario, including 45 First Nations public libraries, in communities throughout the Province.


For more information, please contact the Consulting Team at SOLS or the Skills Development Team at OLS—North.

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