Public Libraries digital initiatives are just the start – websites, ebooks, e-resources, e-learning, and so much more.

FOPL and OLA are asking the government to provide e-resources support during this crisis – especially e-book licensing so that our public libraries – which are experiencing 30-40% in increases in e-book lending and long holds queues.

I can safely state that local public library digital (web, e-content, & social media) presences are vital parts of the community’s digital life and are often the largest presence locally.  We are essential parts of any emergency response as we have always been for floods, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, black-outs and more!

What is your public library system doing beyond the great work of engaging with your communities on your core portfolio?  Please share in the comments!

Ontario-wide, many library CEOs are serving on their local emergency task forces and contributing resources, research, staff volunteers, space, and more to support their communities during this lockdown.  They remain in constant contact with their staff, municipal governments, civil service, and partners. 

Here are some examples:

Toronto Public Library

“First TPL Branch-based Food Bank Opens

Yesterday the first of six food banks opened at Albion branch as an alternate service location for existing food bank customers. On the first day of food distribution in a library location, library staff distributed 48 hampers, serving a total of 48 households and 136 individuals, including 43 children and 9 seniors. All staff volunteers onsite are given personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers, and instructions about physical distancing protocols with special cleaning scheduled after each opening.

TPL’s efforts support the City’s broader work on food security for Toronto’s vulnerable residents. TPL is part of the City’s Food Access-Coordination Support Group established to coordinate food security efforts across the city.

TPL Lends 3D Printers to Support COVID-19 Medical Efforts

TPL is providing 10 of the Library’s Ultimaker 2+ 3D printers for loan to a team at Toronto General Hospital to support their efforts to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Toronto General team is at the Lynn and Arnold Irwin Advanced Perioperative Imaging Lab (APIL) department and is producing face shields that include 3D printed components. The APIL project is part of a larger initiative being spearheaded by Dr. Tarek Loubani through the Glia Project that arose in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for more PPE for frontline workers.

“Toronto Public Library Lends 3D Printers to Support COVID-19 Medical Efforts”

We’re thrilled that we’re able to contribute resources to this important work!

Our Virtual Services are More Popular Than Ever

Since the library has been closed, the use of our online digital content (e-books, e-audiobooks, streaming video) is up by 32%, with Overdrive use up 27% and video streaming up 97%. And we’ve been hearing through Answerline and our social media channels how much our customers appreciate our efforts. Said one customer:

“I wanted to write and say thanks so much to all your staff and especially your IT team  for continuing to offer e-books to read. I enjoy the 7 day loans and read 3-4 books a week. During this pandemic it has helped to pass the time and take my mind off our global health issues.””

Stratford Public Library

As our community and country works together to contain the COVID-19 virus, the Library has had to close its doors. But, we’re moving even more of our operations online and we are here to support you in connecting with each other, staying entertained, and yes – even learning!

What the Library is doing to help you during the pandemic:

Partnering with United Way to Provide Information Services

The smiling faces you used to see behind the desk are now behind their computer screens. Stratford Public Library is partnering with the United Way to staff the online Facebook group dedicated to providing reliable information and make community connections.

Visit the Huron-Perth Covid-19 Resource Group on Facebook to ask your questions and find information:

New: Online Card Registration

Want to access all the great e-resources for FREE but need a library card? No problem! Simply visit to register and you will receive your card number and full access within one business day.  For all account help, please contact We can also renew your existing card and help you find what you’re looking for.

Always Available: Digital Collections

24/7 FREE Books/Audiobooks, Videos, Magazines, Research Databases, Educational Courses, and MORE! All you could want for adults, kids, and teens. Visit:

3D Printing Medical PPE

The Library has repurposed its 3D printer to create medical Personal Protective Equipment supplies that are currently facing shortages. Collaborating with other 3D printer owners in Stratford, the Library is committed to supporting our health care workers in the fight against COVID-19. Donations to support these efforts and purchase filament for this purpose can be made at

Family Activities

Looking for something to do for the whole family? Check us out on Facebook! We are posting daily with activity challenges, videos, and amazing online resources to suit any age.

Hamilton Public Library

How is your library supporting the City’s emergency response?


  • We reached out to public health a few weeks before the emergency to offer our assistance with sharing information about public health or anything we could do.
  • We have a couple of our drivers working for the City doing check-ins for public health.
  • We also have our courier drivers doing pick-up and delivery for the City’s Emergence Resource. For example, we drove to Toronto to pick-up a couple skids of emergency protective equipment.  Our Drivers are available to perform any tasks we are asked.
  • We have moved our Book and Appointment (aka Book a Librarian) to enable Librarians to do this from home.  We have offer our support to Ontario Works to refer people to our Librarian to connect with the customers to help with question.  (They are getting a lot of question that have nothing to do with Ontario Works).

Working Assumptions for the Rest of 2020

With COVID-19, our normal business planning processes have had to be set-aside temporarily, as we focus on responding to the public health emergency.  In planning for our response, we have identified working assumptions to help us manage this effectively and provide some context for staff and the public around our thinking.  These assumptions are not predictions.  With the situation evolving quickly, these will need to be continually evaluated and updated to reflect changing circumstances and directions from the City and the Province.

Throughout this period, we will work with the Library Board to ensure they are engaged and informed about important decisions. The Library Board will play a Central role in establishing our programs and services when we are able to reopen.

  1. HPL’s highest priority during the emergency needs to be supporting the City’s and Public Health’s response, assisting with relief efforts and preparing to assist with the recovery.
  2. We will follow direction and advice from Public Health and ensure our decisions align with the City of Hamilton’s.  Doing otherwise could cause confusion and would not be helpful for clear messaging to support public safety.
  3. When we can reopen will depend on how effective mitigation efforts are, the amount of testing that happens and the state of the pandemic in Hamilton and other places.  Any assumptions we make now about the timing of things could be wrong.  Currently, a reasonable planning assumption is we will not be able to reopen until sometime between June and September of this year.
  4. When we do reopen, we will need to have in place physical distancing and enhanced cleaning and other measures to ensure we minimize the risk that our spaces become a vector of virus spread.  These measures will need to remain in place until well in 2021.  Widely available safe treatment and/or vaccination would have a significant impact on the timing of when we can relax some of our precautions. Some measures, such as enhanced cleaning, will likely be beneficial to continue after the pandemic threat has passed.  With a limited ability to do in person programming we will need to re-direct some staffing resources to temporary cleaning positions and other positions that may be needed to support other measures we will need to have in place.
  5. After supporting the response to COVID-19, HPL needs to focus on enhancing online services, support and staff development and planning for safely reopening.  We need to use this pause in service, as much as practical, to review our services and programs to ensure we reopen better equipped to effectively support the recovery.”

Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

FOPL has opened its FOPL OpenMediaDesk Facebook Group to ALL Canadian public libraries.  We are populating this with links suitable for sharing with local communities to support learning, recreation, culture, and more and to assuage social isolation.  Links include all communities including First Nation and Francophone.

 Southern Ontario Library Service / OLS-North

In addition to a wide variety of communication activities and staff support, our Agencies have opened LearnHQ courses widely to support staff development during the work-from-home period.

Ontario Library Association

In addition to a wide variety of communication activities and member support, our professional Association has re-designed the very popular and innovative Forest of Trees provincial reading program to be run virtually by school and public libraries.

What is your public library system doing beyond the great work of engaging with your communities on your core portfolio?  Please share in the comments!