The Federation of Ontario Public Libraries (FOPL) represents Ontario’s over 400 public library systems exceeding 1,000 branches in virtually every Ontario community.
FOPL is governed by a 23-member Board made up of representatives from the following caucuses:
- First Nations Caucus – 2 members
- Francophone Caucus – 2 members
- Large Urban Caucus – 6 members
- Northern Caucus – 2 members
- Rural Caucus – 2 members
- Small / Medium Caucus – 4 members
- Toronto (no caucus required) – 4 members
The Executive Director of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries sits on the board as a non-voting member.
Each caucus is responsible for electing representatives to the Board for a 3-year term of office. These memberships are staggered annually to ensure continuity for the Federation. Once elected, Board members are expected to act in the interests of members as a whole.
The Board meets every three months to discuss the business of the Federation. During the pandemic FOPL has met for shorter times, but more often in order to best support our public libraries during the pandemic. The Annual General Meeting is held during the Ontario Library Association Super Conference in Toronto.
FOPL’s strategic focus includes Advocacy, Marketing, and Research & Development. These strategic roles are defined below:
As ONE VOICE, FOPL ensures issues facing public libraries are presented in a consistent manner benefiting all public libraries across Ontario. FOPL provides various levels of government with a view of public libraries as a united, relevant and integral component for economic and community development worthy of strong and continued support.
To market and promote the services provided by public libraries in Ontario, to highlight the economic and social value public libraries contribute to the development of our communities, and to strengthen the support of funding bodies and the community at large.
Research and Development
Engage in research that provides insight into present and future environments, issues and developments facing public libraries. This reliable data can be used by public libraries as a base for strategic and operational planning and decision making, and to support advocacy efforts and marketing.
2020 was a rough ride, in any number of ways, and the Library sector has done an admirable job of staying the course. With your support and membership, FOPL has continued to be able to advocate for the government policies and resources that libraries need.
Highlights of the 2020 work include:
- FOPL effectively communicated with the MHSTCI regarding the needs of Libraries during the pandemic, achieving:
- Formal ability for libraries to hold virtual Board meetings
- The inclusion of Libraries in the early stages of re-opening, and inclusion of essential in-person library services through all scenarios from Green to the Grey “lockdown”
- The early release of the PLOG and other funding streams
- Entering the second Shutdown in December, we continued to advocate for the necessity of library services in supporting the community during the pandemic, as well as the longer-term role of libraries in facilitating province-wide access to digital infrastructure
- Throughout 2019-20, we successfully defended the continued inclusion of libraries in Bill 108, resulting in an increase in the amount of money that can be collected for libraries through development charges from 90% to 100%. The new regulations also preserve libraries’ ability to use development charge funds for IT and collection development purposes, maintaining the flexibility and usefulness of the funds.
- With a Trillium Grant, piloting a project called MINE: Mobile Information for Newcomer Employment. This project seeks to find new ways to connect libraries with New Canadians and facilitate improved employment and economic growth.
- The Open Media Desk has continued as a sustainable e-learning project for Library marketing staff to grow their storytelling & social media skills, as well as a shared resource for pandemic-related information, ensuring that libraries have current information to share with their users without duplicating efforts.
- FOPL has continued to work collaboratively with OLA and the OLSs, for maximum effect.
Preview of some of the 2021 work already under way:
- Expert guidance and training for members on development charges to come in 2021. Training and education on Provincial-level topics is part of FOPL’s current strategic plan and increased knowledge about development charges is essential for the many new CEOs to be able to advocate for their libraries when their municipalities draft new DC by-laws.
- With the release of the 2019 Annual Survey of Public Libraries data in December 2020, FOPL will be completing another entry in the FOPL Open Dataset series. Underpinning all our advocacy work with Province-wide data describing the trends, successes, and gaps in Ontario’s Public Libraries, this is a valuable report for all libraries. Statistical comparison reports for individual libraries available on request.
- Budget advocacy for 2021 continues; having avoided cuts in 2020, in partnership with OLA and our government relations firm we are focusing on increasing spending on an Ontario Digital Public Library and broadband infrastructure. We are also keeping a close eye on any budgetary items related to ServiceOntario, OLS, schools, and digital initiatives.
While 2020 and 2021 had transitions for FOPL, the Board has now appointed Dina Stevens as the FOPL Executive Director and established three Project Teams to conduct evaluation and report back to the Board on recommended improvements.
Finally, many thanks are due to the Ontario library community for its ongoing support of FOPL – together we are building on the traditions of excellence and resilience in our sector.