A blog from the Ontario Library Service

Ontario Public Library Guidelines As An Assessment Tool

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:

  • Governance and Administration
  • Planning Documents and Process
  • Policy
  • Personnel and Human Resources
  • Collections and Services
  • Physical and Facilities
  • General.

Ready to be used, either a category at a time, or all seven categories at once, the Guidelines Audit Tool is an interactive spreadsheet that tracks the library’s score and rates that score as Poor, Fair or Good in terms of likelihood of being accredited. The spreadsheet includes a visual dashboard of the results, as well as a summary of where the biggest improvements are needed, and whether revisions necessary are major or minor. The tool allows for easy tracking of how well the library is doing in meeting the OPLG requirements, and where in the audit process the library is currently.


Finding out what you don’t know is significantly more valuable than reaffirming what you do know. ~ Kitty Pope, CEO, Windsor Public Library


Windsor Public Library is currently conducting a policy review, using the new Guidelines Audit Tool to check existing WPL policies against those required by the OPLG, revising and updating as necessary. Says CEO Kitty Pope, “I appreciate that most of us dread the annual process of policy review, but with the assessment tool in hand, it is much quicker and the end results are significantly better.”

Ontario public libraries of all sizes are encouraged to try out the Guidelines Audit Tool, as the best way of becoming familiar with the Ontario Public Library Guidelines, and as a great way to see how your library measures up against these external benchmarks of excellence, as identified by your peers.

For more information about the Guidelines, see the Accreditation page of the SOLS website and the Ontario Public Library Guidelines website.