New Year, New Training Trends: 5 Key Topics in 2022

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Happy New Year! Here’s hoping this one will be better than the last. These past few years have created many challenges for everyone, both personally and professionally, and the disruptions imposed by the COVID-19 global pandemic will continue to shape how we live for the foreseeable future.

As with all things, there is always some good that goes along with the bad and our current situation is no exception. Now is a great time to take a proactive look ahead and set, or reset, some new goals for the opportunities and challenges of the year ahead.

When looking back upon the main training topics and themes that seemed most relevant to Ontario public libraries in 2021, there are some definite trends that rise to the surface:

The Ontario Library Service is excited to move forward in 2022 with relevant, responsive, and impactful training initiatives that anticipate and meet the needs of public libraries serving unique local communities across the province.

From governance and leadership to management and frontline public service, here’s a brief list of the top five training topics we’ve identified…so far:

1. COVID-19 Response

It should come as no surprise that this topic tops the list… there isn’t a public library in Ontario that hasn’t had to pivot, adjust, and revise their service delivery models in response to changing local circumstances and provincial safety guidelines.  From curbside pickup to virtual programming, staff shortages to reduced operating hours, the library community has developed innovative solutions to some unprecedented situations. As the world (hopefully!) starts upon its path back to “business-as-usual” this year, we look forward to the many ways in which we can help continue to support that transition.

2. Mental Health

Ontario’s public libraries have long been confronted with extraordinary situations that have only become exacerbated by the pandemic. For many at all levels of an organization that stress takes a toll and we have all seen the media attention on issues such as burnout, pandemic fatigue, and navigating the delicate balance shifting work and home environments. Training sessions that focus on managing mental health and building resiliency during times of change are paramount to a healthy, happy workplace.

3. Accessibility

Significant barriers to access caused by physical space restrictions for health and safety purposes and the move to delivering online programming, resources, and collections has led to an entirely new way of connecting with patrons and meeting them where they are. From diversifying collections to innovative programming and partnerships, a focus on accessibility in all areas of public service will continue to strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

4. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Public libraries have always worked hard to address inequities in our communities and support their most vulnerable members. With the heightened public awareness and media publicity arising from the tragic events and atrocities occurring in Canada and abroad, we are in a unique position to champion and implement the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion into all facets of public library service provision.

5. Board Legacy

Municipal election day in Ontario is coming up on October 24, 2022! In addition to the resources offered on the Governance HUB, OLS will continue to provide training, resources, and guidance on how to make your board’s transition a smooth and successful experience for everyone.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, as libraries continue to serve their communities in exciting and inspiring ways. We’ll be keeping a close eye on developing topics and trends throughout the year and will do our best to provide responsive training opportunities that “empower Ontario’s public libraries to continuously adapt and improve services to their unique communities.”

Check out our Winter 2022 Training Bulletin and sign up for sessions today!

Don’t forget to visit our website and learn all about the networking meetings and webinars, and professional resources available to you.

What about Databases and E-Resources? Accessible Websites and Web Content Requirements

Since 2012, public and private sector employers have been implementing accessibility standards set out by the Accessibility for Ontario with Disabilities Act (AODA) and its regulations. The process is iterative with requirements coming into force gradually. On January 1, 2021, public libraries are required to makes website and web content accessible. In order to comply, your library’s website and its contents must meet WCAG 2.0. There are limited exceptions if your library can’t comply.

In addition to the content created on library websites for informational purposes (locations, hours, policies, etc.), these websites provide public access to databases and other electronic resources. How does the AODA apply to content that the library has no control over?

The Integrated Accessibility Standards (O. Reg. 191/11) specify accessibility standards required of public and private sector organizations and Section 14 specifically addresses the regulations that apply to websites and web content. Clause (5) requires that websites and web content adhere to the regulation if “an organization controls directly or through a contractual relationship that allows for modification of the product.”

In the case of databases and other similar web-based applications, public libraries do not usually have contracts that allow for them to have any control over the accessibility standards of these products. Therefore, the requirements of section 14 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards do not apply to content on databases and other similar electronic resources when linked through the library website.

This being said, whenever possible, public sector organization are required, under section 5 of the regulations, to “incorporate accessibility design, criteria and features when procuring or acquiring goods, services or facilities, except where it is not practicable to do so.”

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