Board Self-Evaluations and Assessment

Board Self-Evaluations and Assessment

The final calendar year of the current board term is underway, and it’s an ideal time to undertake a board self-evaluation and assessment. One of the most common questions to follow this suggestion is: “What? Why does the Library Board need to conduct a self-evaluation and assessment?” Think of a self-evaluation like a performance review for the board; the self-evaluation and assessment process allows the Board to objectively examine how it is supporting and enabling the library in achieving its mandate. As we move closer to the appointment of boards for a new four-year term following the Fall municipal elections, the self-evaluation and assessment process also adds value in the development of any Board Legacy documents.

“I recommend that Boards have annual, or term work plans and check their progress and performance periodically against the plans.  A good way to deconstruct assessment is to see if the Board is doing what it said it will do (or supposed to do) by examining if it’s providing oversight, foresight, and insight.  And then, the examination and evaluation process begins from there in earnest.” – S. S. Ahmad, OLBA President

It is important to have regular check-ups for your governance practices. The self-evaluation and assessment process is a good indicator of your health as a board and organization. To do this, you need to have different strategies in place for improving your performance and for ongoing assessment. A properly constructed evaluation tool identifies what you should know, helps measure how well you know it, and, more importantly, how to apply it.​

Additional value-added elements to an ongoing practice of board self-evaluation and assessment include:

  • making it easier to plan for the next board term or planning for succession of the board
  • providing start-up support for new board members
  • identifying gaps in skill and experience levels
  • ensuring board alignment with the library’s strategic plan and action plans

Now for the details and specifics of key procedural elements…


It is most common to do an evaluation and assessment once or twice during the board term. For some Boards, the first assessment experience feels awkward and somewhat daunting. However, if the process and outcomes are accepted, the Board can learn and improve its performance based on the assessment. Embarking on a second assessment proves that the Board has learned the importance of monitoring its own effectiveness. Assessment is about the future and ensuring that the Board’s contribution to the organization maintains ongoing excellence.


In addition to evaluating the whole Board, it is equally important for members to conduct a self-assessment of their individual performance. The purpose here is for individuals to be honest with themselves about how active, prepared, and effective they have been in fulfilling their responsibilities as a member of the Library Board. Individual assessment also provides a valuable opportunity to identify gaps in knowledge or a need for additional training.  ​

Also consider including the Library’s CEO in board evaluation activities. They are a key player on your governance team and can provide an important perspective within the process.


  1. Develop a policy – you can’t govern without policy and so having a policy for this process provides structure and continuity.
  2. Demonstrate accountability – assessment shows that you believe in the values of transparency, accountability, learning, and development; and establishes credibility with those who fund and support the library.
  3. Reflect on priorities – identify the issues that have occupied most of the board’s time and ask yourself if those were a good use of time/energy. Key areas to consider include:
    • Organizational mission and values
    • Strategic planning
    • Policies
    • Financials
    • Relationships with the CEO, Council, and Community
  1. Be specific – make use of open-ended questions to gather more specific, detailed results and understanding.
  2. Follow-Up – discuss the assessment results together and address issues that get uncovered. Information gleaned from evaluations can be used in developing or revising recruitment, orientation, and training policies, procedures, and strategic plans. ​

“I very much support the process of board self-evaluation. Throughout the year [my] Board does self-evaluations through questionnaires about the CEO, Performance of Individual Board Members, Conduct of the Board, and Feedback to the Chair…Regular check-ins on different areas of Board activities/interactions is critical to avoid entrenchment of behaviours or conduct that is not helpful to the Board. Also, Board self-evaluations can highlight areas that may have gotten overlooked or missed throughout the year and give a Board the chance to review and reflect as they plan for the year ahead.” – Ben Hendricks, past president OLBA

The commitment to conducting a board self-evaluation and assessment is a means by which the Board can hold itself accountable for the performance of the organization and the state of its governance. It is a commitment to having candid, maybe even difficult, conversations about the extent to which the Board is measuring up to its own policies, codes of conduct, standards, and expectations. A board assessment is connected to the success of the organization and how the Board is contributing to effective governance of the library.

Pro Tip – aim to establish a realistic and meaningful process that works for YOUR board structure and library.

Additional Resources:

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.

Blog Series: What can you do as a Library Board to improve the relationship between your municipal council and the public library? (Post #4 of 4)

In a series of guest blogs library board members Andrew Hallikas and Caroline Goulding will be exploring the question What can you do as a Library Board to improve the relationship between your municipal council and the public library? In this post we will be focusing on how some core responsibilities and philosophies that can help create and maintain your Library Board’s relationship with Municipal Council.

Be fiscally prudent.

Funding is always a problem area for municipalities, just as it is for Libraries. The Municipality provides the major part of the Library’s funding, and the Municipality is very aware of their obligation to provide taxpayers an accounting of where and how tax dollars are spent.  Library Boards need to be very hands on with their budget and to understand it well. Utilize the Municipal Treasurer in your budget discussions. Review your budget carefully at every Board meeting. Do a budget presentation to Council prior to their budget discussions. It is important that the Municipality understand that taxpayer dollars allocated to the Library are spent well and that the Library Board is fiscally responsible and good stewards of taxpayer money. It is essential that the Library Board adhere to their budget and keep budget increases to a bare minimum.

There will be occasions where budget increases are unavoidable, particularly in the cost of electricity, union wages, utilities, insurance etc. These are uncontrollable for the most part and will be increases that the municipality faces as well.

The Library itself will generate some income, be as efficient and creative as possible in the income that you generate. The Fort Frances Public Library reached out to surrounding townships that cannot afford to have a public library and have contracted to provide library services to them for a set annual amount. They have also reached out to area First Nations, Community College Satellite Campuses and the Local Law Library to provide contracted Library services. An active Friends of the Library group can also raise a significant amount of money for the Library.

Be Proactive and Cultivate a Positive relationship with Council

Every Library Board will have at least one or two members who are elected councillors assigned to it. These Board members can be invaluable allies when it comes to dealing with the Mayor and Municipal Council as a whole. They will have a much better understanding of the operation, programming and services of the Library than Council as a whole. They can be extremely helpful in educating Council, especially at budget time. As well when the Library does presentations to council, these Board members/Councillors can assist by asking prepared questions of the presenters as Council members. This can amplify or emphasize the message that the Library would like to get out to not only council but the public. Media usually pay attention to questions asked by councillors. As well Councillors can comment on any presentation to further illustrate or amplify an important point. Ensure that these valuable potential allies are educated about the Library and made to feel that they are not only welcome but invaluable Library Board Members. They should understand that while they are at Library Board meetings, they are Board Members first and Councillors second.

Succession Planning is Important

The make-up of your Library Board is extremely important. Ideally you want a mix of dedicated Library supporters with complimentary skills. Often you get whoever council appoints and sometimes there are not enough qualified applicants to completely fill all Board positions. Be aware of when Board members’ terms expire or if Board members are considering not letting their names stand for another term. Have on-going conversations about suitable replacement candidates based on requirements that fill a need for your board. Encourage these candidates to apply to be on the Library Board. Do not just leave these council appointments to chance. Work constantly to fill your Board with qualified members. You want strong community representation on your Board. Libraries can hold an open house to encourage those interested in serving on a Library Board to come out and meet and talk with existing Board members about the duties and time commitment of Library Board service.

Libraries are generally loved by the Public, use this

Libraries tend to have a much higher approval rating than Municipal Councils. You want to cultivate this. Keep your patrons informed. Be very visible on social media. Use the Media wisely in getting your message out. The Fort Frances Public Library has an excellent relationship with local media and consequently gets strong positive coverage on most issues. We constantly inform the media regarding our events and for the most part they are well covered.  You can also leverage the Libraries position as a trusted community organization in helping the municipality get their own messaging out.

Remember: Creating and maintaining this relationship is one of the most important issues that almost all Ontario Libraries face. We hope you are able to utilize some of the strategies that we have outlined. We would love to hear about how your Library Board has worked to build its relationship with Council, let’s start the discussion!


Andrew Hallikas is the Deputy Mayor and a three term Municipal Councillor for the Town of Fort Frances. He is a Board Member of the Fort Frances Public Library Board and the Past Chair. This is his fourth term as a member of the Fort Frances Library Board. He also serves on the Board of OLS-North. He is been an avid reader and a strong patron and supporter of Libraries since he got his first Library card at the age of eight. As a Teacher and politically active union member, he advocated for both School Libraries and Municipal Libraries over his professional career.

Caroline Goulding is a member of the Dryden Public Library Board and the former CEO of the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre. She is the 2021 Ontario Library Board Association President and also serves as a board or council member of the Ontario Library Association, Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, and the Ontario Public Library Monitoring, Guidelines, and Accreditation Council. She is the Executive Director of Patricia Area Community Endeavours, a Community Futures Development Corporation.

The Estimates Process

I have been thinking about the use of the word ‘budget’ in the public library world. That is, not the use of the word budget as it refers to the document used to track expected revenues and expenses each year, but the use of the word budget in relation to the financial support of the library by its appointing Council.

Each year, representatives from the local public library, perhaps the board chair and the library CEO, must go to their local council to ask for funding support for the next year.  To prepare for this request, the library board prepares a financial plan for the coming year, often prepared in the format of a budget. Section24 of the Public Libraries Act is the provincial legislation that describes the process by which a library can ask for this funding request.  Note that this section of the legislation is called ‘estimates’ and not ‘budgets’:

Estimates – 24 (1) A public library board, county library board or county library co-operative board shall submit to the appointing council, annually on or before the date and in the form specified by the council, estimates of all sums required during the year for the purposes of the board.

In other words, the library representatives present a document which specifies how much money will be needed from the municipality or county to carry out the library plans for the next year. This document would likely specify how much the library will get in the provincial grant and estimate other sources of funding, such as self-generated revenues. By using a budget format (which is perhaps the form specified by the council), the councillors can see the library’s plan for the year and can decide whether they wish to support this plan by providing those requested funds.  Another part of Section 24 of the Public Libraries Act describes the approval of estimates.

Approval of estimates – (2) The amount of the board’s estimates that is approved or amended and approved by the council shall be adopted by the board and shall be paid to the board out of the money appropriated for it. 

In this sub-section, it is noted that after the council sees the library’s plan for the next year, councillors can approve or amend the amount of money which will be provided to the library.  Once approved, that money is paid to the library board – sometimes in a lump sum and sometimes in monthly or quarterly payments.  By the end of the fiscal year, the library can expect to receive all the approved amounts of money, or at least have that amount of money applied against library expenses.

Keeping Section 24 of the Public Libraries Act in mind, I believe that there are two points to consider about the Estimates process:

  • In the Estimates process, the Council is not approving the library’s budget, rather the Council is deciding how much money they wish to provide to the library. The council’s decision is based a presentation of the estimates of all sums required during the year for the purposes of the board, that is what you plan to do, and how much money is needed to achieve this plan.
  • A Council can approve the requested amount; they can decide to give additional funds to the library; or they could decide not to give the full amount of the funding request. If the Council decides to reduce the amount to be provided to the library– they technically did not cut the library’s budget.  Rather, it is the work of the Library Board to take the amended amount of the board’s and determine what to do about library services in the coming year.  Of course, one option is to drop specific items from the budget to balance the revenue and expenses on the proposed library budget. A second option is to determine if it is possible to find other sources of revenue to keep that original proposed plan for the year in place, for example, grant, fundraising, increased self-generated revenue.

The Estimates process has been a part of the provincial library legislation since 1984, and, from time to time, it is important to go back and read what the legislation states.  By taking this step, you can call it the presentation of estimates required and not the approval of a library budget.

Who Does What? Delegation of Authority and the Public Libraries Act

Public libraries in Ontario have followed the same provincial legislation since 1984, with a few minor changes.  Our role at the Ontario Library Service is to help library board members and staff members sort out the framework for library service within this legislation.  Section 3 (3) of the Public Libraries Act states that “A public library shall be under the management and control of a board” (although with a few exceptions).  We know that Section 15(2) of the Public Libraries Act makes it clear that a library “board shall appoint a chief executive officer who shall have general supervision over and direction of the operations of the public library and its staff, shall attend all board meetings and shall have the other powers and duties that the board assigns to him or her from time to time.”  It seems to be the parts in between where things get a little less clear.

The pandemic, which began with a lockdown in March 2020, illustrated to us that the lines of authority were not as clear as everyone thought.  The COVID-19 pandemic brought forward some weaknesses in the delegation of authority for Ontario public libraries.  Observations include:

  • A Library CEO did not have the authority to execute a Pandemic Response Plan and had to wait for the next meeting of the library board so that the library board could approve the Plan before re-opening the spaces.
  • While the framework for reopening was provided by the provincial government and the local health unit, some library boards felt that, to ensure compliance with province guidance, it was their responsibility to write the re-opening procedures.

From those observations, we started to wonder:

  • Is each party (the library board and the CEO) clear on the framework for “who does what”?
  • Did the library board delegate authority to the library CEO?
  • Is this delegation of authority clearly expressed in the written library policies?

Over the years, we have included some phrasing in the sample Trillium Public Library policies to reflect these lines of authority.  For example, that the “library board directs the Library CEO through decisions made at board meeting” or that the CEO will “take actions consistent with the board’s mission, vision, values and policies”.  However, given our most recent experience with the pandemic, we have strengthened these three Trillium Policy samples to better illustrate how a library could specify responsibility:

  • Statement of Authority (BL-01)
  • Purpose and Duties of the Board (GOV-01)
  • Board-CEO Partnership (GOV-08)

In the Board-CEO Partnership policy (GOV-08), we structured it so that the Library Board approves the policy and then, using the guidance provided in policy, the CEO writes the operational plans (e.g. technology, collection, emergency preparedness) and shares those with the library board for information.  In the case of the emergency, our samples show that the CEO can modify the procedures or plans – including the emergency preparedness plan – but would always keep the library board informed of the situation and may ask the library board for direction on specific matters relating to budget, property or service levels.

In the Trillium policy examples, we use a traditional framework where the Board approves all policies and the library’s strategic plan and delegates authority to the Library CEO for the creation of procedures or actions to implement the policies or strategic plan.  We recognize that there are library boards across Ontario using the Policy Governance (Carver) Model whereby the Library Board sets certain policies and then delegates authority to the Library CEO to carry out library operations but also to create and implement specific operational policies AND plans.

Either way, we want to highlight the crucial step of ensuring a clear framework for ‘who does what’.  Using these samples, a library could decide for itself how the lines of authority will be established for their local situation.

Additional Resources

Summarizing the Reopening Framework Stages / Résumé du cadre des étapes visant le déconfinement

Le français suit l’anglais.

Over the past few months, we have all been inundated with news, best practices, and evolving information about COVID-19, and how to protect ourselves and others. In the context of library spaces, directives and suggestions for keeping staff and patrons safe come from various sources: the provincial government, local health units, municipalities, and health and safety associations. This blog post summarizes some of this information and points you to resources for greater clarification.

Provincial Reopening Framework

In the Spring, the Ontario government announced the reopening of the province through gradual stages. At each stage, the government has provided a framework in which public libraries can operate in a reduced capacity.

  • Reopening Ontario webpage: Primary Government of Ontario webpage containing the portal to the Reopening Framework, health and safety information, and to other COVID-19 information.
  • Stage 1 Framework [French] was released on May 15. In Stage 1, specific rules, outlined in Ontario Regulation 82/20, [French] allowed libraries to offer curbside pickup and delivery services as of May 19.
  • Stage 2 Framework [French], published in Ontario Regulation 263/20, [French] allows, as of June 12th, patrons access into the library to facilitate contactless drop-off and pick-up or to access computers, photocopiers or similar services.
  • Stage 3 Framework [French] went into effect on July 17th in most areas of the province. Ontario Regulation 364/20 [French] provides the Stage 3 rules for libraries. Libraries can continue what they did in Stage 2 and this framework also states that “public libraries may open if circulating materials that are returned or accessed within the library are disinfected or quarantined for an appropriate period of time before they are recirculated.”

To help explain the options available to libraries with Stage 3 openings or various considerations for reopening the library, after consulting with Ministry staff, Southern Ontario Library Service and Ontario Library Service—North staff provided written clarification in the COVID-19: Information Resources for Public Libraries guide under the heading of “Response and Reopening Plans”.

Within the reopening framework provided by the province, the health and safety of workers and the public is a top concern. Additional resources to consult include:

  • The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) has information on the protection of workers and a requirement for safe workplaces.
  • The Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province as well as local health units have issued specific directives to be followed. For example, many health units or municipalities have ordered or passed bylaws requiring masks or face coverings in indoor public spaces.
  • The Public Services Health & Safety Association ( has prepared documents for library employers and employees that should be reviewed to ensure that all aspects of health and safety are considered.

Library Boards

We know that library boards and library staff are keen to serve the public, and in most communities, the library’s reopening is an important step to help reconnect local communities!  Although much in our lives have changed over the past six months, existing library board governance structures continue to offer a crucial structure for decision-making.  The lines of communication must remain open and transparent.  Information from the government as to the permissions allowed at each stage of reopening must be shared with the library board and the library staff – as a way of ensuring that everyone is on the same page in the reopening framework – and everyone is aware of what is happening to/with the public library in your local community.  Using the framework provided by the provincial government, each library can strive to provide the widest range of services possible, as safely as possible.

As you continue to plan your reopening, it is important to remember not to rush reopening and to move from phase to phase as staffing and resources allow. And as always, a SOLS consultant or OLS—North advisor is available to chat with you about your local framework for reopening.


Au cours des derniers mois, on a été inondé par des nouvelles, des meilleures pratiques et des informations changeantes au sujet de COVID-19 et de la protection de soi et d’autrui. Quant aux bibliothèques, les directives et les suggestions pour protéger le personnel et les clients proviennent d’une variété de ressources : le gouvernement provincial, les bureaux de santé locaux, les municipalités et les associations pour la santé et la sécurité. Cet article de blogue résume certaines informations et vous dirige vers les ressources pour une plus grande clarification.

Cadre provincial visant le déconfinement

Au printemps, le gouvernement de l’Ontario a annoncé le déconfinement de la province en étapes graduelles. À chaque étape, le gouvernement a élaboré un cadre par lequel les bibliothèques publiques peuvent fonctionner à une capacité réduite.

  • Déconfinement de l’Ontario: C’est la page Web principale du gouvernement de l’Ontario qui a le portail au cadre visant le déconfinement, à l’information portant sur la santé et le bien-être, et à d’autres informations relatives au COVID-19.
  • Le cadre de l’étape 1 a été diffusé le 15 mai. À l’étape 1, des mesures spécifiques détaillées dans le Règlement de l’Ontario 82/20  ont permis aux bibliothèques d’offrir des services de collecte au trottoir et de livraison à compter du 19 mai.
  • Le cadre de l’étape 2, publié dans le Règlement de l’Ontario 263/20, permet qu’à compter du 12 juin les clients puissent avoir accès à la bibliothèque pour faciliter le dépôt et la collecte sans contact ou pour avoir accès aux ordinateurs, aux photocopieurs ou aux services semblables.
  • Le cadre de l’étape 3 a pris effet le 17 juillet dans la majorité des zones de la province. Le Règlement de l’Ontario 364/20 fixe les règles de l’étape 3 pour les bibliothèques. Les bibliothèques peuvent continuer les services de l’étape 2. En plus, ce cadre indique que les bibliothèques publiques peuvent ouvrir si les documents destinés au prêt qui sont retournés à la bibliothèque ou qui sont consultés dans la bibliothèque sont désinfectés ou mis en retrait pendant une période appropriée avant d’être remis en circulation.

Après consultation auprès du Ministère, le personnel des Services des bibliothèques de l’Ontario a clarifié les différentes options pour les bibliothèques à  l’étape 3 (en anglais) et une variété de choses à considérer pour la  réouverture de la bibliothèque (en anglais)  dans le guide COVID-19 : Informational Resources for Public Libraries sous la rubrique Response and Reopening Plans.

Dans le cadre visant le déconfinement de la province, la santé et la sécurité des employés et du public sont une préoccupation majeure. Des ressources supplémentaires à consulter :

  • La Loi sur la santé et la sécurité au travail contient de l’information au sujet de la protection des travailleurs et exige les lieux de travail sécuritaires.
  • Le médecin hygiéniste en chef pour la province, de même que les bureaux de santé locaux, a émis des directives précises à suivre. Par exemple, plusieurs bureaux de santé ou municipalités ont ordonné ou adopté un règlement exigeant le port de masques ou de revêtements de visage dans les lieux publics intérieurs.
  • L’Association pour la santé et la sécurité des services publics (ASSSP) a préparé un document en anglais à l’intention des employeurs et des employés de bibliothèque (en anglais) que vous devriez revoir afin d’assurer la considération de tous les aspects de santé et sécurité.

CA de bibliothèque

Nous reconnaissons que les CA et le personnel sont désireux de servir le public et que, dans la plupart des communautés, la réouverture de la bibliothèque est importante pour la reconnexion des communautés locales. Même si, dans les 6 derniers mois, il y a eu des gros changements, la structure de gouvernance de la bibliothèque demeure clé dans la prise de décision. Les lignes de communication doivent rester ouvertes et transparentes. Afin d’assurer que tous sont sur la même longueur d’onde quant à la réouverture et que tous sont au courant de ce qui se passe en ce qui concerne la bibliothèque, l’information provenant du gouvernement à propos des permissions à chaque étape doit être partagée avec le CA et les employés. En utilisant le cadre proposé par le gouvernement provincial, chaque bibliothèque peut s’aspirer à offrir le plus large éventail de service en toute sécurité.

Tout comme vous continuez à planifier votre réouverture, il est important de vous rappeler de ne pas vous presser, mais plutôt de graduer d’une étape à l’autre dans la mesure que la dotation en personnel et les ressources le permettent. Comme toujours, les consultants du SBO – Sud et les conseillers du SBO – Nord sont disponibles pour discuter de votre cadre local pour le déconfinement.

Virtual Meetings: Making the “Connection” / Une touche personnelle à vos réunions virtuelles

Steven Kraus is a Skills Development Advisor at OLS-North. / Steven Kraus est conseillier en perfectionnement des compétences au SBO-Nord.

Le français suit l’anglais.

“The meeting of two eternities, the past and future….is precisely the present moment”.
-Henry David Thoreau

As we take a few moments to consider the dynamic and shifting landscape all public libraries are currently living, one of the most predominant questions that has come across our desks over the past week has been advice surrounding the anxious desire to retain and preserve some kind of “normal” workflow; with staff, the public library board and even our patrons.

Could we have ever imagined a time where a “meeting” would become a bit of a luxury…?

Thanks to a variety of technology, this luxury is a lot more attainable than one might assume. Staff meetings are being efficiently conducted in many library systems, public library boards are preparing to have some of their first official business meetings in virtual environments and project work across multiple platforms in library systems both big and small are well underway and being conducted with ease.

Some of the most popular options for instant connections out there right now are: Skype, FaceTime (Apple Users), Google Hangouts, Duo, which all work well on a lot of mobile devices or personal computer setups.

More sophisticated business applications, many of which are fee based are also available to explore and consider: Microsoft Teams, ZOOM (free version, however various limits to usage outside the enterprise model exist, discounts may be available via TechSoup ).

Resource: Best video conferencing software for business in 2020

Here are a few additional recommendations to refine your meeting techniques and create the best environment you possibly can to conduct your public library board business:

  • Here is a document which sums up the key legislative elements to best enable your virtual meeting frameworks:
  • Brush up on your Meeting Management Techniques, as they apply to virtual world just as much as they do in-person around your physical board table:
  • Remember that any Board Meetings or Committee Meetings must remain “open” to the public. This necessitates that any technology choice made to conduct your meeting must also have the ability to broadcast the meeting with an interactive (two way) capacity to ensure “public participation” is available for any attendees.
  • For the flow of business, as we recognize that many libraries will be dealing with “In-Camera or Closed Session” items, especially with a variety of legal and human resources topics before you all. For better meeting management and securing your virtual platforms for private discussions, we recommend that you place your closed meeting items at the end of your meeting agendas to not interrupt your flow or have a potential stream of participants entering or exiting your meeting environment randomly.

We recognize that not everyone will be comfortable meeting or working in a virtual environment and that there are a variety of different types of challenges that arise operating in this type of foreign environment.

Here’s a few additional perspectives and resources to put into context some key chairing elements which will make for the best results for your upcoming virtual meetings to achieve your best workflow:

How to Run a Great Virtual Meeting

8 Cardinal Rules Of Running A Virtual Meeting

* Note – If you are investigating bylaw updates, policy amendments or changes pertaining to virtual meetings, don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisors / consultants from OLS-North and SOLS for assistance or guidance as required.


« Le moment présent est le point de convergence entre deux éternités : le passé et l’avenir. »
-Henry David Thoreau

Depuis quelques semaines, les bibliothèques publiques se retrouvent dans un environnement marqué par l’incertitude et les changements de cap rapides. L’un des enjeux récurrents est le souci de maintenir un semblant de fonctionnement « normal », tant pour le personnel et le conseil de bibliothèque que pour le public.

Aurions-nous pu imaginer qu’une simple rencontre en personne deviendrait un luxe?

Heureusement, nous disposons d’une variété d’outils technologiques fort pratiques pour faciliter la communication. Des réseaux de bibliothèques parviennent à tenir des réunions du personnel fructueuses. Des conseils de bibliothèques s’apprêtent à tenir leurs premières réunions officielles dans un environnement virtuel. Et des projets de toute envergure sont en cours d’exécution – et bien avancés – à plusieurs endroits en province grâce à des plateformes électroniques.

La communication instantanée est facilitée par des services populaires comme Skype, FaceTime (appareils Apple), Google Hangouts et Duo. Chacune de ces solutions est bien adaptée aux appareils mobiles et aux ordinateurs de bureau.

Ajoutons à cela des applications plus robustes pour la conduite des affaires, dont certaines sont payantes, comme Microsoft Teams et Zoom. L’application Zoom est disponible en version gratuite, mais sous réserve de restrictions d’utilisation. Il pourrait être possible d’obtenir un rabais en passant par TechSoup

Ressource : Meilleurs logiciels de vidéoconférence pour les entreprises en 2020 (en anglais)

Nous avons recueilli quelques recommandations afin de favoriser le bon déroulement des réunions de votre conseil de bibliothèque dans un environnement propice aux échanges :

  • Le document suivant présente les exigences législatives clés à respecter pour les réunions virtuelles :
  • Rafraîchissez votre mémoire en ce qui concerne les techniques de gestion d’une réunion. Ces techniques s’appliquent autant aux réunions virtuelles qu’aux rencontres en personne : (contenu partiellement en français).
  • Rappelez-vous que les réunions du conseil et de ses comités sont ouvertes au public. Ainsi, les outils technologiques doivent fonctionner de manière interactive (bidirectionnelle) et permettre aux membres du public de participer à la réunion.
  • Plusieurs conseils devront tenir certaines discussions à huis clos, particulièrement concernant des litiges ou des questions de ressources humaines. Dans un souci d’assurer le bon déroulement des réunions et de protéger le huis clos, nous recommandons de prévoir ces discussions à la fin de l’ordre du jour. Ainsi, les premiers points seront abordés en continu et la réunion ne sera pas interrompue par l’arrivée ou le départ de personnes à divers moments.

L’environnement virtuel nécessite une certaine adaptation et pose des défis, surtout pour les personnes qui en sont à leurs premiers pas.

Les conseils présentés dans les documents suivants vous aideront à diriger des réunions virtuelles productives, bien rodées et qui donnent les résultats voulus. Les documents sont en anglais.

How to Run a Great Virtual Meeting

8 Cardinal Rules Of Running A Virtual Meeting

* Note : Si la tenue de réunions virtuelles vous incite à envisager des modifications aux règlements administratifs ou aux politiques, ou tout autre type de changement, n’hésitez pas à demander le soutien des équipes de services-conseils du SBO – Nord ou du SBO – Sud.

SOLS Initiatives for Governance Support

By the first week of December, most municipal councils have been sworn in and will be poised to begin the task of appointing people to the various local boards and committees with terms tied to council’s term. This, of course, includes library boards.

Board Appointments
Ideally, councillors understand the importance of making board appointments as quickly as possible, and definitely within the 60-day period set out in the Public Libraries Act. In most cases, library boards are typically appointed by early January, in time for a January board meeting.

This is also a really important time to reach out to your new municipal council, if you haven’t already done so. FOPL (Federation of Ontario Public Libraries) has provided a model letter of congratulations that can be easily customized, and SOLS and OLS – North have updated Spotlight on Ontario Public Libraries: What You Need to Know as a Municipal Councillor and the Municipal Councillor’s Public Library Handbook, respectively. All three of these can be found on the Board Transition page of the SOLS website, under the heading ‘Councillor Orientation‘.

Board Orientation
In addition to planning the library board’s first meeting, the CEO needs to plan for providing an orientation to library board governance for new board members. New board members and a new term provide an excellent opportunity for board renewal. Returning members of the board will benefit from a governance refresher, and new board members will welcome the opportunity to ask questions and learn from those who have experience on the board.

The OLBA Bootcamp, which is set for Saturday February 2, 2019 during the OLA Super Conference, is one excellent way to provide new board members with an opportunity for board training and networking if your board has been appointed in time. See the conference website for more information.

In addition to what is offered by OLBA, the staff of OLS–North and SOLS have been working collaboratively to develop governance resources and design orientation sessions that will provide Ontario’s public library boards with the tools they need to govern effectively. Our plan is to provide governance training (webinars, followed by workshops), orientation materials and governance resources (available online) as described below.

Governance Hub
SOLS and OLS–North are pleased to unveil the Governance HUB as a central, coordinated collection of governance resources for public library boards in Ontario, including orientation materials, an overview of governance roles and responsibilities, and access to a wide range of curated resources. This new, online platform allows us to update and refresh the materials on an ongoing basis, while still providing the core governance information that public library boards rely on to fulfill their responsibilities as set out in the Public Libraries Act.

Another important feature of the Governance HUB is that its structure includes lots of headings that result in good subject access to the information provided. This means there is a far greater likelihood that an individual board member (or CEO) will find what he or she is looking for when searching for something specific.

We recognize that the online environment does not appeal to everyone as a place to store and read information, and that some boards will still want printed material. The resources include core governance information in a series of PDF documents that are easy to print and assemble. You will find the various PDF documents clearly indicated as you navigate your way around the Governance HUB.

10 Things You Need to Know as a New Library Board Member
It is worth drawing attention to one document in particular, available in the Board Orientation & Ongoing Development section of the Governance HUB. It is recommended that the PDF version of 10 Things You Need to Know as a New Library Board Member [LINK] be printed and distributed to board members at their first meeting in 2019. The list is intended as an overview of the most important aspects of public library board governance in the Province of Ontario, and will be a useful resource for board members to refer to, during and between meetings. There is also an online version, housed in the same section as above, with more explanation and links to relevant resources for each of the ten points.

Another very useful tool for new board members is OLBA’s Cut to the Chase brochure. Its 4 pages are overflowing with valuable information about library board governance. Of particular help is the chart that spans pages 2 and 3 of Cut to the Chase, entitled, “The Public Library Board and the Chief Executive Officer: Who Does What?” A walk-through of this chart is a great lead-in to conversation at the board table about the dividing line between governance and operations, as well as those areas where the board and CEO do hold some shared responsibilities.

Governance Fundamentals Webinars
New and returning board members benefit from governance training in addition to having access to good information. To aid in your board’s early orientation, OLS–North and SOLS are offering a FREE Governance Fundamentals webinar. The same webinar will be repeated several times to accommodate the different timing of board appointments and to allow for sufficient discussion and clarification as needed. The Governance Fundamentals webinar will be offered the following days and times, through LearnHQ. Registration opens on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.

  • Monday, January 21, 7pm to 8pm
  • Thursday, February 7, 7pm to 8pm
  • Saturday, February 9, 11am to 12pm
  • Tuesday, February 12, 2pm to 3pm
  • Saturday, February 23, 11am to 12pm

There will also be a recorded version of the webinar available in the Governance HUB early in the new year.

Governance Best Practices Workshops
In the spring, starting in April 2019, SOLS staff will provide in-person governance workshops at several locations throughout southern Ontario. These workshops will highlight governance best practices and will be aimed at board members and CEOs attending together! These 3 hour sessions will be an excellent opportunity for new and returning board members and CEOs to learn about boardroom practices that support informed decision-making and strategic oversight. The sessions will be interactive, with lots of time for networking, as well as time to have valuable discussion as a board, weighing and sifting new approaches to doing things, and looking for ways to improve board functioning and decision-making. The dates for these sessions will be finalized early in the new year.

Ontario Library Service – North will contact northern libraries directly about Governance Best Practices sessions in northern Ontario.