I've written two recent articles for Municipal World, highlighting how libraries support creative expression and health literacy in our communities. Feel free to share this information with your boards and municipal leaders!
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The Ontario Public Library Guidelines Monitoring and Accreditation Council recently released the 7th edition of the Ontario Public Library Guidelines (OPLG). First introduced in 1997, the OPLG have been updated and improved with each edition, the latest changes having to do with responding to emerging trends and issues, such as the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and better organization of the guidelines themselves.
Until recently, the process of going through an audit using the OPLG was almost exclusively promoted as the means of achieving accreditation. While this remains true – in order to be accredited under the OPLG, a library has to pass an external audit – it is also true that the audit process itself can be a valuable, straightforward and useful assessment process, providing the library CEO and board with an excellent and measurable assessment (a numeric score) of the library’s performance against 186 peer-recommended guidelines (even more for a multi-branch system) refined over the past twenty-one years.
If you are unfamiliar with the Guidelines, now is a great time to get familiar! Made up of a series of yes/no questions, the Guidelines are organized into the following areas:
As the coordinator of the APLL Institute, I am often asked why APLL is so expensive and what makes it a good investment for public libraries. I’d like to address both these questions.
While $3,600 (plus HST) might seem a lot of money, it is actually quite reasonable if you consider what it covers over a two-year period:Instant access to a supportive peer network that extends beyond the 2 years of the program registration and all materials for 12 online courses; presenters’ fees and materials for the face-to-face classroom sessions; meals and accommodations for the classroom sessions; and individualized leadership coaching and mentoring throughout the two years.
Another way of thinking about it is that APLL spans 24 months – which means that the program costs are $150 per month. That’s a pretty good deal for all of the benefits listed above.
As public libraries continue to grapple with the challenges of ongoing, disruptive change, it is more imperative than ever that anyone who works in a library is prepared to commit to continuous learning! Almost everything about libraries is in flux, and in a very real way, we will, together, learn our way through these changes, designing and delivering programs and services that are innovative and engaging. SOLS wants to help you address your learning needs and support you in ways that make learning accessible, relevant and of lasting value. Through our many training offerings, the SOLS Competencies Index and related tools, and the Learn HQ training portal and platform, SOLS remains committed to being a trusted partner in the training and development landscape for public library staff across southern Ontario.
As part of our planning, we invite you – yes, you! – to complete a survey that will help us better understand your training needs and the training priorities for public libraries. We are asking everyone – from frontline staff to CEO – to take approximately 15 minutes and complete the survey. To date, we have received 234 completed surveys – a great response so far! Everyone who submits a completed survey by Friday, May 6th will have a chance to win one free admission to a SOLS workshop!
Public libraries are at an important crossroads in their evolution. While libraries have long mastered the introduction of new formats and have become quite adept at integrating technology, the issues of the day call for a reinvention of what a library is understood to be. It is crucial that the library's stakeholders, especially municipal councils and members of the community, come to understand the value and benefits produced by the library. I would argue it's not so much that our core mission needs to change as it is a matter of ensuring the mission is well understood and endorsed. We need our funders to believe in the importance of what we do. We have always helped people learn, grow and express themselves creatively, but now more than ever before, the ability to learn and grow and be creative is required by an in increasingly creative economy. And we need our communities and funders to understand the role we play in building a robust and creative workforce and society.
This work of reinventing our public image is work that belongs to library leaders. As a sector we need to ensure we have leaders capable of building credibility and value in the municipal environment. We need leaders capable of ensuring the library is well connected and engaging the community. We need leaders committed to continuous improvement and service innovation.
The APLL Institute is a leadership development program of the southern Ontario Library Service. It's a two year certificate program that combines the flexibility of online learning with highly interactive classroom sessions. The APLL Institute develops leaders capable of leading our libraries into a successful and thriving future.