Importance of Public Libraries

Simply put: Ontario’s Public Libraries. Now more than ever before, play a critical role in the social, educational, cultural and economic success of the communities in our province. Public Libraries are an essential investment in the future of our communities and are essential drivers of success in school preparedness, reading readiness, economic and employment success, and social equity. As the development of the knowledge economy progresses, public libraries are a vital link for every resident and every community to ensure success of all Ontarians, regardless of location or background.

Over 5 million Ontario residents make hundreds of millions of visits to the library, in person and virtually, every year.  Libraries are trusted, accessible community hubs providing freely accessible professional service, technology, programs, and resources to a more diverse range of residents than any other cultural institution.  Ontarians have voted with their library cards and passionate support for public libraries continues to grow in the digital age.

Ontario public library services have evolved to be much more than books and buildings.  Today’s libraries have a measurable and valuable impact on the quality of life and the success of our communities – economically, socially, educationally, and culturally.  FOPL ensures that funders and decision-makers know the full breadth and depth of the role of public libraries in Ontario, and advocates for the needed support, programs, and resources to continue to make a difference for all Ontarians.  The Public Library value proposition is strong and includes (but isn’t limited to):

Return on Investment: many studies show that public investment in libraries delivers a measurable, positive return on investment economically, socially and for the capacity of communities to attract businesses and residents.

Economic Development: supporting small business and entrepreneurs who will drive local economic recovery, growth, and job creation by providing them with resources such as databases on market trends and information on regulatory obligations;

Employment Support: providing services and resources for career planning, job search, education, and upgrading skills;

Welcoming New Canadians: helping newcomers to Canada succeed through settlement support; language acquisition including ESL programs, accreditation and employment support and maintaining cultural connections;

Early Literacy Development: supporting success in life and reading and school readiness through a vast array of pre-school and children’s literacy programs;

Support for Formal Education and Homework Help: professional help and collections to support learners of all ages to develop advanced information fluency competencies, do research and complete projects.  Open longer hours than school libraries, public libraries are also critical support systems for adult distance education and home schooling.  Across the province, libraries are busier than ever with students at all ages and stages;

Serving the whole community: public libraries ensure that the whole community of Ontarians – including those with visual or physical limitations, from any cultural or language community, natives, and more – receive equitable access to the resources of our society for success.

Equitable access to community resources: public libraries are often the only place where all residents can access free computing resources, the internet, peripherals, training, and assistance to accomplish their goals as citizens, workers, and more.

Access to Government Services: providing professional support services, accessible locations, and technology infrastructure to serve as a major access point for e-government. Public Libraries provide cost-effective opportunities to reach Ontarians to deliver government services for everything from forms and information to advice;

Questions Deserve Quality Answers: Ontarians have important information needs and deserve quality answers regardless of their economic status or location. On issues of health, parenting, finance, life choices, and more, libraries go beyond Google to improve the quality of questions and answers.

Cultural Vitality: a critical piece of a community’s cultural framework, public libraries are essential to a healthy and sustainable society as social equity, environmental responsibility and economic viability; and local history heritage.

Affordable Leisure Activities: offering free borrowing of books, music and movies and exciting library programs for children, families, seniors, and people of all ages and tied directly to community needs and demand.