Staff Profile Series: Karen Reid

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

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Name: Karen Reid            

Position: Director of Operations

I started as a summer student in the mailroom at the former Ontario Library Service – Escarpment (Hamilton) in 1989 and returned after university to be a part of the Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS). I have been involved in many governmental and funding changes over the years and was closely involved in the merger of the Southern and Northern Ontario Library Services. I am currently responsible for Finance, Human Resources, Purchasing, IT, and Resource Sharing including Interlibrary Loan and e-Collections.

My favourite meal is
Anything Mexican – I could eat tacos or enchiladas every day!

My desert island record is…
My iPhone playlist with over 2,000 songs. 😊

A random and seldom known fact about me is…
I have my Bronze Cross swimming certification. I might be a lifeguard when I retire!

Staff Profile Series: Steven Kraus

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

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Name: Steven Kraus             

Position: Director of Training and Consulting

I started my career within the OLS with the OLS-N in 2004 as a Consultant. I’ve held several titles in our organizations over the years, but at the heart of it all, it’s always been about connecting and serving our clients libraries and their unique library board members to the very best of my ability! What started as a job, quickly grew into a passion to best assist Ontario’s Public Libraries in both French and English and that motivation to bring our best to the table still endures to this very day.

If you could become a character from any book who would you pick and why?
Michael Connelly’s, Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch. The Gritty, no nonsense, find-all-the-answer’s type character really speaks to my drive and convictions… plus the consistent sarcasm doesn’t hurt either… to entertain.

My favourite meal is…
Cajun Catfish, Wild Rice and Slow Cooked Molasses baked beans. I could eat that same meal daily and NEVER get sick of it…

My desert island record is…
This is a dangerous and impossible question for a musician to answer… so I am going to bend the rules and give you all a short list of Albums you simply need to hear at least once in your lifetime…

ZZ Top – Tres Hombre
Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Exodus – Bonded by Blood
Voivod – Killing Technology
Oscar Peterson Trio – Night Train
Mark Lanegan – Whiskey for the Holy Ghost
Telefon Tel Aviv – Map of What is Effortless

A random and seldom known fact about me is…
– I’m 50% French Canadian and 50% Austrian… it still surprises folks when they review my last name… and discover I’m francophone! 😊

Seldom – When I’m not working, I’m usually immersed in one of two things… A deep appreciation of music, playing it or listening to it as a musician and as an FM Radio DJ or, I’m deep in the woods hunting, fishing, and kayaking.

What was the most personally inspiring public library related work you’ve helped make a reality during your time with the OLS?
I’ve been tremendously lucky throughout my career with the OLS and its predecessor organizations to have been a participant and contributor in many significant projects and significant events for the library sector. It has been incredibly rewarding to work closely over the years with librarians, boards, our parent ministry, and so many incredible other stakeholders. The list is exhaustive, and I am always happy to be out there building our brand in the sector and making strong bonds and connections for the good of our organization and clients.

Every day, especially in my current role, I feel even more deeply connected to everything that makes up our Ontario Public Library community.

It’s my privilege and honour to lead our talented Consulting Team through the work we do in support of Ontario’s Public Libraries of all sizes.

What do diversity, inclusivity, and connection mean to you?
I am grateful and thankful for any opportunity that presents itself, or I seek out to embed myself into occasions where I can deeply listen, learn, and connect with new groups, new cultures or perspectives different than my own. I am continuously inspired by the people around me who express their gender fluidity, cultural practices, and beliefs, which I might know less or nothing about.

I want to be thoughtful in my approaches to others’ realities, without imposing my lens on their experiences.

Life offers so much for us all to experience and share in the challenges and successes each and every person faces.

I am grateful to share even just a tiny moment with anyone who’s got a story to tell, especially in today’s complex world.

Staff Profile Series: Brandon Fratarcangeli

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

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Name: Brandon Fratarcangeli           

Position: Consultant

For the past seven years, I’ve worked as a consultant with Ontario Library Service, and previously Southern Ontario Library Service. My first library job was about 15 years ago at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Education Library, and there I realized for the first time that libraries are so much more than books and journal articles. I checked out puppets, toys, board games, teaching equipment for student teachers. It really helped shape my perspective of what a library can be. During my time at library school, I worked at the University of Toronto Libraries in Faculty & Student Engagement, gaining new perspectives on the community building, statistical reporting, and curriculum development. These experiences led me to my current position at Ontario Library Service, where I provide advice and guidance on numerous topics related to public library governance and service.

My favourite meal is…

Mushroom risotto.

A random and seldom known fact about me is…

My dream vacation to travel across North America with a teardrop trailer, and stopping at the best hiking trails. I especially want to visit the American Southwest.

Do you have a favourite task or project in your OLS work role? Tell us a bit about it…

I really enjoy working with library board members and on governance issues more generally. Before starting at OLS, I only had a very basic understanding of how libraries are overseen and governed. Through my experience at OLS, I gained tremendous insight into the importance of strong governance models for the continued success of libraries. I’ve met wonderful board members from across the province, and I’m truly heartened by volunteer community members willing to serve on their boards and strive to provide effective governance structures that support staff and let them excel at their jobs.


Leadership “Coach Approach” Program Wins ICF Prism Award

Ontario Library Service and Big Cheese Coaching Honoured Together with Tribute of Excellence

Image of PRISIM Award winners on screen

On June 14, 2023 the Ontario Library Service (OLS) with Eileen Chadnick, PCC, of Big Cheese Coaching were awarded winners of the annual International Coaching Federation Toronto Prism Awards, in recognition of a two-year “Coach Approach” integrated component of the Advancing Public Library Leaders Institute (APLL).  The Prism award, now in its 23rd year, celebrates excellence in organizational and leadership coaching.

Championed by Anne Marie Madziak (recently retired), the former APLL lead, and OLS executive recognized the potential to bring coaching skills into APLL’s leadership development curriculum.  Designed and facilitated by Eileen Chadnick, the multi-modality “Coach Approach” program was delivered with a hybrid of live workshops (virtual and in-person), videos with online discussion, peer practice, reflective assignments, and a plethora of resources.

41 emerging and aspiring leaders participated in the 2021-2022 cohort, representing 32 public libraries in Ontario. Focused on coaching in the library leadership context, the training highlighted the coaching mindset, and various coaching skills and approaches to amplify potential for collaboration, engagement, and capacity-building.

Image of Anne Marie Madziak at podium.Anne Marie Madziak (program champion) said she saw enormous synergy in the coach approach with the organization’s mandate: “The focus on coaching is well aligned with many of the Institute’s nine leadership practices, including developing individuals, embracing strategic change, reaching for exemplary service, and creating a learning environment. The Coach Approach initiative, with its sharp focus on practical coaching skills and a coaching mindset, is aligned with the learning objectives of the Institute, resulting in many current and future important coaching conversations across Ontario’s public library sector.

Image of Eileen Chadnick at podium.This is the second Prism award for Eileen Chadnick, who said: “It is an extraordinary honour to receive an ICF Prism award. Working with OLS and seeing the transformation amongst the 41 leaders was even more gratifying – seeing the leaders develop new coaching skills and approaches to inspire, empower, and catalyze potential with their people in their respective libraries and communities.”

Image of APLL instructors and Big Cheese Consulting OLS CEO and incoming APLL co-facilitator, Mellissa D’Onofrio-Jones said: “The Coach Approach had a demonstrably positive impact on aspiring leaders in the 2022 cohort. Our aim is to provide leaders at every level in the public library sector with tangible tools for having people centred conversations that develop not only staff but a positive work culture where psychological safety is valued.  Coaching skills will continue to be a significant part of the 2023-2024 curriculum.

Lead ICF Award Judge, Lucy Shenouda, said, “Your delivery of a diverse and comprehensive program in meeting the needs of different types of learners and honouring the ICF competencies is an outstanding achievement.”

We continue to incorporate coaching into the APLL Institute with the current cohort already expressing keen interest in learning more about and practicing coaching skills as a part of their leadership tools.

Big Cheese Coaching Logo       Advancing Public Library Leadership Logo

Staff Profile Series: Deanna Nebenionquit

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

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Name: Deanna Nebenionquit

Position: First Nation Consultant

My name is Deanna Nebenionquit, and I am an Ojibwe-kwe from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. Growing up, I was a frequent user of the Atikameksheng Kendassi Gamik. The library sits halfway between my parent’s and grandparent’s house. From a young age, I was encouraged to practice reading and writing. My bedroom was an organized mess of notebooks, novels, and magazines. I was also raised to engage with the community by visiting people and attending events. The First Nation was our playground back then! I felt safe exploring on my bike and walking the perpetual loop around the main village with cousins and friends.

My family values and upbringing led me to a career in Museology. I graduated from the Applied Museum Studies Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa and the Indigenous Internship Program (formerly the Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices) at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. Before joining Ontario Library Service, I worked for many years at the Art Gallery of Sudbury | Galerie d’art de Sudbury as the Collections Intern, turned Collections Manager and Curator Alternate.

The synergies between museums, libraries, cultural knowledge, and history have allowed me to work towards the grand goal of supporting on-reserve public librarians and the services they provide to patrons.

My favourite desert island book is…

There There by Tommy Orange, published in 2018. I look forward to rereading Cover image of novel: There There by Tommy Orangemy yard sale copy of There There at camp each summer. Tommy Orange is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, raised in Oakland, California. Orange’s fictitious storylines and characters weave together multi-generational experiences through several succinct journeys. The storylines describe Indigenous realities that I’ve tried to process as a First Nation Millennial. Orange’s writing style made me realize that I had never experienced the fiction writings of an Indigenous person from my age group. The City of Oakland is a focal point that the author features as a living entity that can store memories and culture. Tommy Orange’s ability to describe Oakland as home for his characters was the first time I felt the connection to my own community described through written word. Year 2023 will mark my sixth reading of the book, so I think I could survive on an island with this text!

A random and seldom known fact about me is…

A random and seldom known fact about me is that I have no artistry skills. Because I worked in the arts sector for so many years, people assume that I am a master at painting, drawing, sewing. Truth be told, I did not inherit any of those skills. My mom and sister still hem my curtains! I’ve been working on the same beading project for years – a 3-inch flower that I had to turn into an image of an over easy egg in a frying pan because I botched the original project. I appreciate artists and respect their skills, but I am not one of them. However, I do appreciate the compliments that follow once people realize the truth: “You seem like the creative-type!” or “You look like an artist.”

Do you have a favourite task or project in your OLS work role? Tell us a bit about it…

I love many aspects of my job as a First Nation Consultant. However, my favourite is engaging with the on-reserve public librarians through the weekly informal virtual Tea & Chat. The drop-in model has consistently been a welcoming space for clients, First Nation Consultants, and the occasional special guest. The group consultation model provides opportunities for OLS to curate training initiatives. The librarians remind me of family and community members that I grew up with. The librarians are all welcoming, sincere, honest, and supportive.

Staff Profile Series: Dayna Lintner

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

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Name: Dayna Lintner

Position: Operations and Training Administrator

Since 1989, I have been fortunate to work for the Ontario Library Service in various administrative positions. In my spare time, I enjoy sports, travel, 🤩glamping🤩, woodworking, and painting.

My favourite meal is…

Homemade lasagna! 😋

My desert island record is…

🎵 Fleetwood Mac: Greatest Hits   

A random and seldom known fact about me is…

I hold a black belt in Taekwondo. 🥋

First Nation Communities READ Top 5 Programming Tips

This year, First Nation Communities READ (FNCR) marks 20 years of celebrating the very best in Indigenous Literature in Canada.  The popular program is led by First Nation librarians working in First Nation communities across Ontario.

Many libraries look to the FNCR program for best book recommendations when purchasing for their collections.  Each year, a shortlist and selected titles are named in two categories: the Children’s Category and the YA/Adult Category.  The titles are chosen by juries made up of First Nation librarians here in Ontario, and are judged with very specific guidelines that reflect First Nation librarianship and the value of knowledge transmission and cultural importance. The winning titles will be announced and celebrated during First Nation Public Library Week (FNPLW) in October 2023.

One of the goals of the FNCR program is to invite all communities and libraries to learn about and showcase Indigenous literature through unique programming and increased numbers of titles in collections.  One of the easiest things librarians can do is purchase the titles named in the long and/or shortlists. These titles can be found through the official FNCR wholesaler,  One of the great things about purchasing through is that a portion of all sales flows to the SILT (Supporting Indigenous Libraries Today) fund.  It’s a win-win!

In anticipation of this year’s line-up, we’ve compiled a Top 5 list of ways you can incorporate FNCR titles into programming throughout the year:

  1. Horror
    If you want to recommend horror to readers, look no further than Inuit titles from Inhabit Media.  Many of these stories are connected to old Inuit stories passed down from generation to generation.
  1. Black History Month
    The Indigenous community is wide and diverse and includes our wonderful Afro-Indigenous brothers and sisters.  During Black History Month, don’t forget to celebrate titles like Beautiful You, Beautiful Me by Tasha Spillet Sumner.
  1. Graphic Novels
    The longlist for this year includes many graphic novels.  Katherena Vermette, Richard Van Camp, and David Robertson, all highly recommended for those graphic novel fans.
  1. Support for Language Revitalization
    Throughout Canada, Indigenous peoples are working hard to grow language proficiency.  Your library can help to support this movement by purchasing titles from the longlist that include various language groups.
  1. 2 Spirit/Pride Month
    The growth of titles created by 2 Spirit writers and illustrators has been wonderful to witness.  During June and all year really, libraries can support the 2S community by highlighting these titles. Joshua Whitehead and Billy Ray Belcourt are just two of the 2S authors highlighted in this year’s longlist.

Visit for more information.

2023 Maanjidiwaad Annual Meeting of First Nation Public Libraries in Ontario (formerly called Spring Gathering)

Image of First Nation public librarians attending Spring Gathering in a classroom setting.

After a long gap, on-reserve public librarians gathered once again in person, to renew relationships and continue working towards our collective goals through self-curated professional development opportunities. This year, 17 on-reserve public librarians and 11 guests/speakers gathered on the traditional territory of Nipissing First Nation from May 31st to June 2nd.

We were fortunate to gather in the Thomson Reading Room at the Harris Learning Library, Nipissing University for two days. For our final day, we gathered in the Garden Village Hall in Nipissing First Nation.

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Highlights from the 2023 Agenda:

Visiting Garden Village, Nipissing First Nation:

    • Tour of Nipissing First Nation Kendaaswin
    • GoodMinds and Indigenous Reflections vendor
    • Fish Fry catered by Tigaaning Fish Frys

Evening Events:

    • Craft Night sponsored by Kathleen Copegog, Beausoleil First Nation Public Library
    • Tour of the Indigenous Ingenuity exhibit at the North Bay Museum, sponsored by Science North

Gathering in Harris Learning Library at Nipissing University:

    • Treaty Reading Room designed for smudging and knowledge sharing!
    • The front-desk librarians also shared their shawls with guests when the building got too chilly! 😊

History of Maanjidiwaad

Since 2012, the on-reserve public librarians have been attending Maanjidiwaad to visit, learn, and share. Maanjidiwaad offers First Nation-centered training. The sessions are organized in response to the on-reserve public librarians needs and suggestions.

In 2020, the on-reserve public librarians recommended that the name “Spring Gathering” be changed to a name in an Indigenous language.

As Spring Gathering travels around the province, each host community will be asked to rename the gathering in their regional dialect.

Maanjidiwaad was the name chosen by the host community Nipissing First Nation to replace Spring Gathering. Maanjidiwaad means those who gather or gathering people. The Nipissing dialect is a unique subset amongst the larger Nishnaabemowin family.

Chi-miigwetch | Nia:wen to Randy, Niigaanzid Kendaaswin from Nipissing First Nation Kendaaswin for hosting such a wonderful event!

Upcoming First Nation Events:

  1. Thursday, June 8, 2023, from 2:00PM – 3:00PM EST

Partnerships and Consultations: Indigenous Approaches to Community Building

Robyn Medicine, Community Hub Librarian – Indigenous Relationships Supervisor, Thunder Bay Public Library

  1. Wednesday, June 21, 2023, from 2:00PM – 3:00PM EST

First Nation Communities READ Longlist Announcement

Nancy Cooper, First Nation Consultant, Ontario Library Service

Resources Available Year-Round:

Beausoleil First Nation sees improved internet through Connecting Public Libraries Initiative.

May 25, 2023

The Ontario Library Service continues to implement the Connecting Public Libraries Initiative, a $4.85M project investment made by the Province of Ontario to upgrade broadband internet service at approximately 50 public libraries in unserved and underserved communities across the province.  To date through the Connecting Public Libraries Initiative (CLI), 13 public library branches have been connected with improved speeds of at least 50/10mbps.  This improved connection reaches over 35,000 Ontarians providing more reliable connectivity through the local public library.  This will enable greater participation in critical services such as online health care, remote work, and online education.

Today, we share the exciting news that Beausoleil First Nation Public Library has been connected.  With funding from this project, a new tower was constructed, which will enable the entire community to access faster and more reliable internet, not just the library.

“Our government is proud to invest in Ontario’s libraries as a key pillar of building strong and vibrant communities that support lifelong learning and help develop the talent and skills of Ontarians,” said Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.  “A faster, more reliable internet connection will help the surrounding community access essential resources and services through the Beausoleil First Nation Public Library”

Beausoleil First Nation is located at the Southern tip of Georgian Bay on Christian Island Ontario.  There are approximately 800 year-round residents of this First Nation.  The Island’s main access is by ferry and by ice road or hover craft in the winter months.  Through participation in this project, the Beausoleil First Nation Public Library can now access internet speeds previously unattainable; enabling staff and patrons more reliable access to services and resources.  Additionally, this funding provides improved connection and a robust infrastructure to address the community’s broader needs.

“Our government is making significant progress in bringing high-speed internet access to every community across the province by the end of 2025,” said Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure.  “Through the Connecting Public Libraries initiative, the Beausoleil First Nation Public Library will now have access to reliable internet connections for their community.  Through this initiative, we are providing residents with access to digital supports and services they need to work, learn and connect with their loved ones.”

Jon D’Alessandro President of Community Network Partners said of the project “We are proud to support the OLS in their mission to improve internet services for libraries across the province.  Communities such as Beausoleil First Nation, who for far too long have remained underserved can now enjoy reliable access to essential resources.  Together, we are committed to continuing to work towards ensuring equal access to internet services through the Connecting Public Libraries Initiative.”

“It was quite an honour for me to be able to provide this updated connectivity service to the patrons of our library” said Kathleen Copegog CEO of Beausoliel First Nation Public Library.  “Our patrons are very happy with the higher internet speed that they are experiencing and coming out more to the library to access the information that they require.  Knowing that this helps our community as well brings me great pleasure as I know a lot of people suffer from very poor connectivity in their homes.  Thank you to Ontario Library Service for choosing Beausoleil First Nation Public Library to take part in the Connecting Public Libraries Initiative!”

The Connecting Public Libraries Initiative is administered by the Ontario Library Service on behalf of the Government of Ontario.  “This investment demonstrates a recognition of the important role Ontario’s First Nation Public Libraries play in providing reliable and effective internet access,” said Mellissa D’Onofrio-Jones CEO, Ontario Library Service. “This improvement means that not only do library patrons have access to improved connectivity, but the whole community can also benefit from the new infrastructure.”

Please contact Mellissa D’Onofrio-Jones at for further information.

(News release link)

We Need to Talk (about Strategic Planning)

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“Big problems can be solved by starting at the community level.” – Kate Graham, 2022

When was the last time you looked at your library’s strategic plan? If the answer is “not since we launched it”, we need to talk. Ideally, a strategic plan will guide the library board, management, and staff in making decisions about where the library is going and how it will get there within a set timeframe (typically 3-5 years). Unfortunately, it is often the case that the strategic plan is merely a showpiece document that fails to integrate itself into the regular and ongoing work of the public library.

A great place to start is to ask the question of what “strategic planning” means to you and your library. At its core, strategic planning is the process of determining an organization’s future direction and then identifying the best approach for successfully achieving that direction. While the process typically follows standard methods, the elements and results produced may be drastically different from one library/community to the next. No library is too small to have a strategic plan in place, especially when supported with the right resources.

For public libraries in Ontario, it is the Board who holds primary responsibility for the highest-level organizational planning. That role often develops in the form of strategic planning (and business planning, not addressed in this post), which requires a coordinated and organized approach that is separate from an annual report, which summarizes what your library has accomplished in the previous year. Strategic planning is all about looking ahead, dreaming big, and envisioning where the library is going and what it wants to become in the years ahead.

As you know, public library boards are comprised of community volunteers who may or may not bring expertise in this area and so for many, developing and maintaining a strategic plan can be a daunting, or frankly terrifying, task. This is why it is vital for libraries to determine early on who they will select to participate on a steering committee from among the Board, management, and staffing levels; as well as whether the Board intends to lead the process internally or bring in an external facilitator.

“A full understanding and analysis of the community allows you to uncover what the community needs, what they want, and what they aspire to be. The Strategic Plan outlines how the public library will meet the need, fulfill the want, and anticipate the aspirations.” – Ontario Library Service

Whether your library takes the route of contracting an external planning facilitator (such as the Ontario Library Service) or handles strategic planning internally, there are three primary concepts to keep in mind:

    1. Collective Intelligence – something as large and far reaching as a strategic  plan, something that will affect services and planning for an entire community, is a collaborative effort. Everyone involved is a representative of the community and therefore a valuable contributor.
    2. Strategic planning is part art AND part science – effective planning includes both standardized elements (research and information gathering) and more creative elements (thinking beyond what the library does now and really thinking about what the community is saying about its future through the data and input).
    3. Time to Think – between the necessary research, information and input gathering, community engagement, data analysis, debate and brainstorming, the strategic planning process deserves and requires time devoted to it. Planning the future direction of a cornerstone community organization such as the public library is not one to be rushed or hurried.

A primary benefit of strategic planning for public libraries is the opportunity to test your individual or group assumptions and constructively question what you think to be true about the library and its place in the community. The library’s strategic plan should reflect the needs and priorities of its community and ideally align with those of its municipality, county, or Band Council. Think about themes, ideas, and language that will resonate with your library and community.

On the flip side, a primary challenge of strategic planning for public libraries is often that of balancing the work involved with the competing demands of daily activity at the library. Scheduling time for meetings, let alone for new tasks, can be a significant barrier. But keep in mind the purpose of this type of planning and the organizational value to be gained from striking the right balance between a visually appealing document and one that is highly effective in guiding the organization forward. The strategic plan can help focus energy and resources, support clear communication, and lead to a stronger understanding of the library’s purpose.

Once your strategic plan is in place, be sure to allow room for it to grow and adapt alongside the library. Tracking progress, adjusting workplans as circumstances shift (and they will!), and assessing performance measure will ensure the plan remains a living document that helps the library meet and exceed its goals.

For anyone looking for more content and resources on strategic planning for public libraries in Ontario, and to learn more about how the OLS team can provide support, check out the OLS Strategic Planning Resource Guide.