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Governance Policies

The Oakville Public Library is a not-for-profit corporation and a registered charity providing library services to the Oakville community. The Library is financially supported by the Town of Oakville, provincial grants and dedicated sponsors and donors. In order to ensure the Library is being fiscally responsible and using these funds for the intended purpose of offering the best possible library services to Oakville residents, the Oakville Public Library shall not provide community assistance funding of any kind.

Effective Date:November 6, 2014
Motion #: 14.11.81
Next Review Date: 2018
Supersedes Policy Dated: New
Motion #:Page 1 of 1
Filed in: Board Manual, Added to Website

Purpose and Scope

This policy defines the manner in which Oakville Public Library Board members will fulfill their duties and carry on business with each other, with library staff and with the library's partners.


Oakville Public Library Board Members are expected to act in an ethical and businesslike manner. This commitment includes the proper use of authority, appropriate decorum in group and individual behavior and respect for others and their contributions to the Oakville Public Library.

In keeping with the Town of Oakville's RZone policy, board members will promote a positive, safe and supportive environment for all members of the public using the Library and Library staff. Violence, vandalism and inappropriate behavior are not acceptable. All of the workplace violence and anti-harassment policies of the Oakville Public Library apply to board members.

Members are not to accept or provide any gift or benefit where it may be, or perceived to be, in exchange for favour or influence.


  • Small Christmas gifts (cards or edibles, such as chocolates or cookies)
  • Advertising material (calendars, scratch pads, disposable pens, t-shirts)
  • Any gift that is a common expression of courtesy or within the normal standards of hospitality
  • Any hospitality or gift that has a monetary value under $100

Board members may not participate in any Oakville Public Library contest open to members of the public. Even in the case where a board member may be considered to be participating as a customer (i.e. attending an adult program with a door prize), they are still not eligible to participate in the contest component of the program.

Immediate family members of board members and may only participate in OPL contests where the winners are chosen randomly.

Any direction to staff requiring an extraordinary use of time or resources to complete shall be approved by a majority vote of the OPL Board or one of its Committees. Staff is responsible for identifying such directions.

All such requests shall contain a description of information to be included in the report, objectives, and due dates so that these items may be reflected in the minutes of the OPL Board and/or Committees.

The OPL Board and/or Board Committee Chair will ensure that all staff queries and concerns about the extraordinary direction are answered before the work is undertaken.

Final Approval Date: June 27, 2013
Motion #: 13.06.48 Next Review Date: 2017
Supersedes Policy Dated: New
Motion #: Page 2 of 2
Filed in: Board Manual, Added to website


The board will monitor its own effectiveness in fulfilling its major responsibilities and achieving strategic goals. The evaluation process identifies key areas for board improvement and the requisite follow-up action. This policy ensures that the board assesses its effectiveness.The board will evaluate its effectiveness on an annual basis.


  1. The chair is responsible for managing the process of the evaluation.

  2. The evaluation will be done by establishing an annual board work plan and subsequently judging performance, in the areas of:

    • policy development

    • planning

    • advocacy

    • relationship with the Chief Executive Officer

    • finance

    • board conduct and practice

Final Approval Date: June 27, 2013
Motion #: 13.06.48
Next Review Date: 2017
Supersedes Policy Dated: New
Motion #: Page 1 of 1
Filed in: Board Manual, Added to website

Purpose and Scope

The orientation of new members is necessary in order for there to be a common and shared understanding of the authority and role of the library board. This policy sets out the requirements for board orientation.


  1. Board members shall be given a thorough orientation within two months of their appointment to the board.

  2. Mid-term appointments will be given an orientation by both the Chair and CEO. In addition, the Vice-Chair will act as a mentor (see. By-law 4.3)

  3. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the board chair shall be responsible for developing an agenda to provide an orientation which shall include, but not be limited to:

  • information on the library's vision, mission and values

  • an overview of the Public Libraries Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P44 and other relevant legislation

  • an overview of the board bylaws, governance policies and financial authorities

  • an overview of the roles of the Board's committees

  • training in relation to reading and comprehending financial reporting documents

  • a discussion on the role, structure, code of conduct, function of the board and the legal duties and liabilities of board members

  • a tour of library facilities and an introduction to staff members and services

  • presentations by senior staff in relation to their areas of responsibility

  • The CEO will ensure that each board member receives:

  • the current Oakville Public Library Board Manual

  • the library's current planning document

  • a copy and overview of the annual operating plan and the current budget

  • a copy of the Library Board Development Kit (Southern Ontario Library Service)

  • a copy of Cut to the Chase: Ontario Public Library Governance at a Glance. (Ontario Library Boards' Association)

  • confirmation of their membership in the Ontario Library Association

  • a list of library resource websites such as that of the Southern Library Association, the Ontario Library Board's Association

Final Approval Date: June 27, 2013
Motion #: 13.06.48
Next Review Date: 2017
Supersedes Policy Dated: New
Motion #: Page 1 of 1
Filed in: Board Manual, Added to website


In order to be effective, board members must have sufficient knowledge of board governance and issues that are central to the role of the library in the community. Ongoing training ensures that board members focus on good governance, strategic directions and policy implications rather than on operational details. This policy ensures that board members have access to, and avail themselves of, training opportunities.


  1. To ensure ongoing education, the board will:

    • schedule time for board training

    • maintain a membership in the Ontario Library Association and the Ontario Library Boards' Association

    • assign a representative who will attend the regional Trustee Council meetings and report back to the board

    • fund two board members to attend a relevant conference (e.g. OLA Superconference) annually

  2. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will provide information to the Board about training and networking opportunities offered by various organizations in Ontario.

  3. The cost of any training must be approved by the board or CEO before it is undertaken.

  4. Board members will report on their participation in training or networking events.

  5. In the first year of its term, the board will review and discuss each module of the Library Board Development Kit, prepared by Southern Ontario Library Service.

  6. Board members are encouraged to participate in training opportunities that include, but are not limited to:

    • effective governance

    • planning

    • advocacy

    • funding development

    • decision making

  7. The internal auditor will provide a presentation on fiduciary responsibilities to both the Finance and Audit Committee and the Board at least once a year.

  8. risk management;

    • legal roles and responsibilities of officers and directors

    • insurance

Final Approval Date: June 27, 2013
Motion #: 13.06.48
Next Review Date: 2017
Supersedes Policy Dated: New
Motion #: Page 2 of 2
Filed in: Board Manual, Added to website


Individuals or groups wishing to make a presentation to the Oakville Public Library Board regarding a specific issue are asked to notify the Secretary of their intention a week prior to the meeting, if possible.

Notification can be by letter, email or telephone and should provide contact information, explain the nature of the presentation as well as provide an indication of the numbers of people attending and any special requirements so that proper accommodation can be made. The Secretary of the Board can be reached:

  • by phone at 905-815-2042

  • by mail at:

Oakville Public Library Board
c/o Secretary to the Board, Oakville Public Library,
120 Navy Street, Oakville, ON, L6J 2Z4

The presenter can request that the Secretary of the Board or a delegated staff make contact with the individual or group presenting in order to ensure that technical requirements are made available as best as possible by the Library, and to assist with the distribution of the presentation and any related documents. If the presenter wishes to opt out of being contacted, presenters are encouraged to provide the Board with a written copy of their presentation.

Delegations will be scheduled at the beginning of the meeting, with the time to speak determined by the Chair of the Board.

The matter addressed by the delegation will be discussed by the Board as a regular part of the agenda.

Effective Date: June 27, 2013
Motion #: 13.06.51 Next Review Date: 2017
Supersedes policy dated: November 22, 2007
Motion #: 07.11.105 Page 1 of 1
Filed in: Board Manual, Public Service Manual (5.2), Website

Purpose and Scope

The Oakville Public Library Board expects its members to understand the extent of their authority and to use it appropriately. This policy sets out the obligations of individual board members.


  1. Each board member is expected to become a productive participant in exercising the duties of the board as a whole.
  2. Individual members of the board are responsible for exercising a Duty of Diligence as follows:
    • be informed of legislation under which the library exists, board bylaws, all library policies, mission, vision and values
    • be informed about the activities of the library and the community and issues that affect the library
    • attend board meetings regularly and contribute from a personal, professional and life experience to the work of the board
    • be prepared for all board meetings and use meeting time productively.
    • participate in all board development opportunities
  3. Individual members of the board are responsible for exercising a Duty of Loyalty, as follows:
    • adhere to the regulations of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. R.S.O. 1990, c. M50
    • act in the interest of the library members and community over and above other interest group involvement, membership on other boards, council or personal interest
    • speak with "one voice" once a decision is reached and a resolution is passed by the board
    • represent the library positively to the community
  4. Individual members of the board are responsible for exercising a Duty of Care, as follows:
    • promote a high level of library service
    • consider information gathered in preparation for decision making
    • offer personal perspective and opinions on issues that are subject to board discussion and decisions
    • show respect for the opinions of others
    • assume no authority to make decisions outside of board meetings
    • know and respect the distinction in the roles of the board and the staff
    • refrain from individually directing the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the staff without Board approval or outside of duties as an Officer (ie: Chair)
    • respect the confidential nature of library service to users while being aware of, and in compliance with, applicable laws governing freedom of information
    • promote intellectual freedom

Final Approval Date: June 27, 2013
Motion #: 13.06.48 Next Review Date: 2017
Supersedes Policy Dated: New
Motion #: Page 2 of 2
Filed in: Board Manual, Added to website


The purpose of this policy is to provide a framework for fostering diversity and social inclusion at Oakville Public Library (OPL), in order to create an environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging and is able to participate freely with respect, dignity, and freedom from discrimination. 

Policy Number:           GOV-012
Policy Category:         Governance
Approved by:     OPL Board
Accountability:     CEO or Designate
Approval Date:            January 28, 2021     
Effective date:             January 29, 2021   
Next Review Date:       January 2024

View the complete Inclusion Policy here (PDF)

Intellectual Freedom Policy

Purpose Statement

Oakville Public Library (OPL) supports intellectual curiosity and enquiry, and supports intellectual freedom as the prerequisite for an informed, democratic society. The Oakville Public Library defends “the right of library users to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression as the basis of a democratic society”, as embodied in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

The OPL endorses the Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries and the Ontario Library Association’s Statement on the Intellectual Rights of the Individual. These statements do not apply to the expression or dissemination of views that promote and/or incite hatred as defined by the ‎Criminal Code of Canada.  Such communications are prohibited on library premises and may result in a person’s immediate expulsion from the premises and referral of the matter to the Halton Regional Police Services.


This policy applies to the entire organization and those individuals or groups representing OPL. 

Policy Statement

OPL endorses the Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries (CFLA, June 27, 1974, amended November 17, 1983, November 18, 1985, September 27, 2015, Reviewed 2018):

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations recognizes and values the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as the guarantor of the fundamental freedoms in Canada of conscience and religion; of thought, belief, opinion, and expression; of peaceful assembly; and of association.

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations supports and promotes the universal principles of intellectual freedom as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which include the interlocking freedoms to hold opinions and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

In accordance with these principles, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations affirms that all persons in Canada have a fundamental right, subject only to the Constitution and the law, to have access to the full range of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, and to express their thoughts publicly. Only the courts may abridge free expression rights in Canada.

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations affirms further that libraries have a core responsibility to support, defend and promote the universal principles of intellectual freedom and privacy.

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations holds that libraries are a key institution in Canada for rendering expressive content accessible and affordable to all. Libraries are essential gateways for all persons living in Canada to advance themselves through literacy, lifelong learning, social engagement, and cultural enrichment.

Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and facilitate access to constitutionally protected expressions of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, including those which some individuals and groups consider unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. To this end, in accordance with their mandates and professional values and standards, libraries provide, defend and promote equitable access to the widest possible variety of expressive content and resist calls for censorship and the adoption of systems that deny or restrict access to resources.

Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and foster free expression and the right to safe and welcoming places and conditions. To this end, libraries make available their public spaces and services to individuals and groups without discrimination.

Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and defend privacy in the individual’s pursuit of expressive content. To this end, libraries protect the identities and activities of library users except when required by the courts to cede them.

Furthermore, in accordance with established library policies, procedures and due process, libraries resist efforts to limit the exercise of these responsibilities while recognizing the right of criticism by individuals and groups.
Library employees, volunteers and employers as well as library governing entities have a core responsibility to uphold the principles of intellectual freedom in the performance of their respective library roles.

OPL endorses the Ontario Library Association’s Statement on the Intellectual Rights of the Individual (OLA, December 2003, reaffirmed December 2005):

In affirming its commitment to the fundamental rights of intellectual freedom, the freedom to read and freedom of the press, as embodied in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Library Association declares its acceptance of the following propositions:

That the provision of library service to the public is based upon the right of the citizen, under the protection of the law, to judge individually on questions of politics, religion and morality.

That intellectual freedom requires freedom to examine other ideas and other interpretations of life than those currently approved by the local community or by society in general, and including those ideas and interpretations which may be unconventional or unpopular.

That freedom of expression includes freedom for a creator to depict what is ugly, shocking and unedifying in life.
That free traffic in ideas and opinions is essential to the health and growth of a free society and that the freedom to read, listen and view is fundamental to such free traffic.

That it is the responsibility of libraries to maintain the right of intellectual freedom and to implement it consistently in the selection of books, periodicals, films, recordings, other materials, and in the provision of access to electronic sources of information, including access to the internet.

That it is therefore part of the library's service to its public to resist any attempt by any individual or group within the community it serves to abrogate or curtail access to information, the freedom to read, view and listen by demanding the removal of, or restrictions to library information sources in any format.

That it is equally part of the library's responsibility to its public to ensure that its selection of material is not unduly influenced by the personal opinions of the selectors, but determined by the application of generally accepted standards of accuracy, style and presentation.

Policy Number:          GOV-011
Policy Category:        Governance
Approved by:              OPL Board 
Accountability:    CEO
Approval Date:           August 27, 2020
Effective date:            August 28, 2020
Next Review Date:      August 2023
Supersedes:    Intellectual Freedom Policy effective June 28, 2012


This policy forms part of Oakville Public Library's ("OPL's") risk management and corporate governance arrangements and outlines OPL's underlying approach to risk management, documents the roles and responsibilities of the Board of Directors ("the Board"), the senior management team, and other key parties. It also outlines key aspects of the risk management process, and identifies the main reporting procedures. This policy also describes the process the Board will use to evaluate the effectiveness of OPL's risk management procedures.


Underlying approach to risk management

The following key principles outline OPL's approach to risk management:

  • the Board has responsibility for overseeing risk management within OPL
  • an open and receptive approach to solving risk problems is adopted by the Board
  • the senior management team proposes changes, advises and implements policies approved by the Board
  • OPL makes conservative and prudent recognition and disclosure of the financial and non-financial implications of risks
  • the CEO, Directors and Managers are responsible for implementing good risk management practices within their departments/branches
  • key risk indicators will be identified by the senior management team working with the Town of Oakville's Director, Internal Audit on an ongoing basis as needed but at least once within the first quarter of each calendar year

 Roles and Responsibilities

  1. The Board

The Board has a fundamental role to play in the management of risk within the library.
This role includes:

  • determine the appropriate risk appetite or level of exposure for OPL
  • approve major decisions affecting the institution's risk profile or exposure
  • monitor the management of risks annually review the institution's approach to risk management and approve changes or improvements based on best practices to key elements of its processes and procedures.
  1. Senior Management Team

  • Key roles of the senior management team are to:
  • implement policies on risk management
  • identify and evaluate the risks faced by OPL for consideration by the Board
  • actively manage identified risks, create a risk management culture and report issues in a timely basis to the Board
  • undertake an annual review of effectiveness of the system of risk management and provide a report to the Board


This system encompasses a number of elements that together facilitate an effective and efficient operation, enabling OPL to respond to a variety of operational, financial, and commercial risks.
These elements include:

  1. Policies and procedures.

Attached to risks are a series of policies that assist OPL in reducing or mitigating these risks. These policies are set by the Board and implemented, communicated and managed by senior management to staff. Written procedures support the policies where appropriate.

  1. Reporting.

Comprehensive reporting is designed to monitor key risks and their controls. Decisions to rectify problems are made at regular meetings of the senior management team and the Board if appropriate.

  1. Business planning and budgeting.

The business planning and budgeting process is used to set objectives, agree upon action plans, and allocate resources. Progress towards meeting business plan objectives is monitored regularly.

  1. Risk framework

This framework is compiled by the senior management team and helps to facilitate the identification, assessment and ongoing monitoring of risks to the institution. The document is formally appraised annually but emerging risks are added as required, and improvement actions and risk indicators are monitored regularly.

  1. Finance & Audit Committee (FAC)

The FAC is required to report to the Board on risk management and alert Board Members to any emerging issues. In addition, the FAC oversees internal audit, external audit and management as required in its review of risk management.

  1. Internal audit program

Internal audit provides assurances on risk management processes and on the management of those risks classified as "key". It also provides a reliable and appropriate assessment of risks and reporting of risk and control status. Internal audits are performed annually by the Town of Oakville's Director, Internal Audit, including risk management assurance reviews.

  1. External audit

External audit provides feedback to the Audit Committee on the operation of the internal financial controls reviewed as part of the annual audit.

  1. Third party reports

From time to time, the use of external consultants may be necessary.

  1. Annual Reporting

The senior management team will prepare a report of its review of the effectiveness of the risk management system annually for the Board.

  1. Annual review of effectiveness

The Board is responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of risk management of the library, based on information provided by the senior management team.

Policy Number:           PS-026-OPL
Policy Category:         Board Manual
Approved by:              OPL Board
Accountability:           Chief Executive Officer
Approval Date:           June 27, 2013 (Motion #: 13.06.60)
Effective date:
Next Review Date:      June 2017
Supersedes:                New


Section 1: Types of Policies

The Board develops and maintains policies in five areas:
  • Foundation policies which record the board's decisions on vision, mission and values;
  • Board bylaws which establish the organizational structure of the board and how it does business;
  • Governance policies which define the responsibilities and regulate the work of the board;
  • Human resources policies which guide relations with the staff;
  • Operational policies which regulate the services and day-to-day operations of the library.
Section 2: Responsibilities

The Board will:
  • Establish an annual schedule to review existing policies and will integrate this schedule into the board agendas;
  • Ensure that policies comply with the Public Libraries Act, and any other applicable provincial and federal legislation.
Section 3: Policy Approval

Policy approval is a two step process:
  1. Draft policies are provided to the board seven days prior to the next scheduled board meeting. The board provides comments and feedback on the draft policy and any changes are made by staff.  The revised policy is presented to the board at a subsequent board meeting. 
  2. Pending no further changes, the board approves draft policies.

The public is notified of new policies or policy revisions through the posting of the board agenda package on the website. 

Section 4: Policy Distribution

All policies should be documented in a standard format; numbered according to policy type and include the date of approval and the date of the next review.

The Board will:
  • Ensure that all board members, staff and volunteers have access to the policies;
  • Post policies on the library's website.
Section 5: Considerations

The proposed development of a new policy, or the proposed revision or rescission of an existing policy can come from several sources:
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • A member of the board
  • The Council
  • Provincial Government
  • A member of the public
Policy Number: GOV-010
Policy Category: Governance
Approved by: OPL Board    
Accountability: CEO or Designate    
Approval Date: February 20, 2020
Effective date: February 21, 2020
Supersedes: Policy Development Policy effective June 27, 2013

To specify a formal mechanism to create, revise, rescind, approve and publish library policies.

In accordance with the Public Libraries Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P44, s. 3(3), the Oakville Public Library is under the management and control of the board. The board has the sole authority and responsibility for establishing policy. Policies set the framework for the governance and operations of the library and provide direction to board, staff and volunteers. Policies are a tool for achieving the library's vision and advancing the strategic priorities. They help ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, promote operational efficiencies and reduce institutional risks. Their broad application provides a basis for consistent decision-making and resource allocation. Board members, staff and volunteers are responsible for knowing, understanding and complying with the policies of the Oakville Public Library.

In the interests of accountability and transparency, the Oakville Public Library Board will use the Library's website to inform the public of all its meetings, as defined by the Public Libraries Act, Section 16, and to direct the public to agendas and approved minutes.

Final Approval Date: June 27, 2013
Motion #: 13.06.50 Next Review Date: 2017
Supersedes Policy Dated: April 23, 2008
Motion #: 08.04.35 Page 1 of 1
Filed in: Board Manual, Added to Website

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of the Oakville Public Library Board is to manage and control the affairs of the public library in service to the community in accordance with the Public Libraries Act, RSO 1990, C 44. This policy sets out the work of the board and the ways in which the board achieves its purpose.


The Board oversees the development of a comprehensive and efficient public library service by:
  • expressing the library's philosophy and values
  • articulating the library's vision, mission and priorities
  • evaluating results of activities and services used to achieve goals
  • setting policies on governance and service
  • developing, approving and monitoring all short and long range plans of the library and the strategies to implement them
  • monitoring the financial affairs of the Library and ensuring that the organization operates on an ethical and sound financial basis
  • appointing the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who will have "general supervision over and direction of the operations of public library and its staff" (s.15(2), Public Libraries Act) and evaluating her/his performance
  • planning for further library development of library services
  • securing the resources to achieve the intended results and setting budget priorities
  • advocating for library service
The Board governs effectively by:
  • representing the interests of the community
  • engaging the community in determining responsive and dynamic library service
  • acting as a bridge between the library and the council
  • working collaboratively with the CEO and the council
  • setting an annual board agenda that reflects current goals and strategic issues
  • participating in Board development and training
  • working proactively and making decisions that focus on the library's future and place in the community
  • evaluating the board's performance
  • managing risk

Final Approval Date: June 27, 2013
Motion #: 13.06.48 Next Review Date: 2017
Supersedes Policy Dated: New
Motion #: Page 1 of 1
Filed in: Board Manual, Added to website


Oakville Public Library Board encourages and supports active participation of all Board members to better serve in their capacity as Oakville Public Library Board trustees. At times, a Board member may incur costs related to his or her duties on the Board and it is the practice of the Oakville Public Library Board to reimburse reasonable expenses for Board-approved activities. Section 18 of the Public Libraries Act R.S.O. 1990, c. P.44 states that: "A board may reimburse its members for proper travelling and other expenses incurred in carrying out their duties as members."

Board members are expected to make a reasonable effort to minimize costs and follow all of the Oakville Public Library Board's current guidelines pertaining to limitations of cost and reimbursement processes.

Effective Date: June 27, 2013
Motion #: 13.06.52 Next Review Date: 2017
Supersedes Policy dated: New
Motion #: Page 1 of 1
Filed in: Board Manual, Added to Website