Press Release

January 13, 2015

Ontario Public Library Usage and Visits at an All Time High!

Toronto, Ontario: The number of people visiting public libraries in Ontario is at an all-time high with Internet and online usage going through the roof, according to the latest polls and statistics released by the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries (  From the genesis of the Internet and web, libraries have adapted and continued to grow and remain relevant.

“Public library visits and loans continue to rise at an impressive rate, but it is the digital experience, WiFi usage, e-Books, virtual visits and, surprisingly, non-traditional library services that are delivering the most staggering results,” says FOPL Chair Margie Singleton, also CEO of Vaughan Public Libraries.

A new 2015 public opinion poll conducted by Market Probe Canada shows that 73% of Ontarians report having a library card and an amazing 66 % used their local library branch in person in the past year (almost half do so monthly!).

Ontarians value and use their public libraries

Ontarians borrowed over 131 million items in 2013 (from the data collected by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport released in spring 2015) and innumerable items digitally.  They made over 73.5 million in-person visits (156 visits/hour).  When you count visits to libraries’ virtual branches that’s over 158 million visits or almost 300 people a minute.  “The major growth for public libraries has been in the digital realm – where usage of digital books, video, music and magazines are growing so fast that it is challenging to keep up with demand – but Ontario’s public libraries are doing it!” according to Ian Ross, Vice-Chair of FOPL and CEO of Whitby Public Library.

All Public Libraries offer Internet Access and usually community wireless.

“The Internet has been a great leveler – especially for the north and our First Nations communities – where access to the Internet and digital content at your public library gives residents – like students, adult learners, and seniors – the content they need to succeed and engage with the wider world,” says Jonathan Lewis, CEO, Atikokan Public Library.

That said, it is the staggering array of services and programs that keep Ontarians coming in the doors to learn, be entertained, and to connect with their communities.  With digital innovation labs and makerspaces and community based programs, libraries serve their communities’ needs.  With almost 25% of Ontarians with no access to the web at home or work, libraries remain the great equalizer for Ontario’s residents.

Public Libraries have provable positive impacts on issues to matter – school readiness, homework and school performance, distance learning, social cohesion, health resources, employment and economic development.  Recent studies show that every dollar invested in public libraries of all sizes delivers an economic return of over 450%.

“Those of us in the public library space remain concerned about the misinformation out there.  Ontario’s public libraries are exemplars of adapting to the digital era and remain critical support foundations and infrastructure for Ontario residents,” noted Stephen Abram, executive director of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries.

About Public Libraries in Ontario: 

Ontario’s Public Libraries are, and have always been, vital community hubs in the fabric of Ontarian’s lives and critical infrastructure in the delivery of social services for all levels of society.  We have the diversity of locations, talent, programming, and open hours to accomplish more for Ontario and Ontarians.  We have a long history of community partnerships and working on a collaborative basis, cooperative partnerships with both government, not-for-profit and business entities, and within shared governance models.  

For just 49 cents per capita public libraries offer:

  • Access to public library service for 99.34% of Ontarians and 444 municipalities offer public library service through 1,157 service outlets. With the notable exception of First Nation reserves, where there are, sadly, often limited public library services, there is a public library in every community.
  • Public libraries are non-partisan and are free of charge by law.
  • Almost 5.0 million Ontario residents have activelibrary cards and over 73% of Ontarians used their library last year
  • Ontarians borrow over 131 million items a year.
  • Ontario’s public libraries provide access to 11,500 public computer workstations, and hundreds of online resources.
  • Ontario’s public libraries offer 203,964 programs with annual attendance of 3,719,083 people.
  • There are over 155,000,000 visits to libraries a year – in person and digitally.
  • Many public libraries are located with other community hubs: in recreation centres, malls, and schools and are anchor sites in community planning.

Source: 2013 Ontario Public Library Statistics, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport. 

For more information check our visuals at:

For more information contact:

Stephen Abram, MLS, Executive Director

Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

Cel: 416-669-4855