Community-Led Think Tank

Equity and Bias Awareness in Community Engagement

Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET, Virtual Conference


A wise librarian one said you haven’t worked in a public library if you haven’t had to deal with poop, drugs and fire – sometimes all on the same day. Our communities are in flux and many are lacking the basic services and programs to help them get through a day. This is where libraries often find themselves bridging the gaps and solving problems that were never talked about in library school. This Community Led Think Tank event will discuss caring and thoughtful approaches to communities at risk.

We will kick-off our event with a keynote on overcoming bias, understanding your community and bridging library service with community services from Marcus Logan, Manager, Community Development and Engagement, Oakville Public Library.

Then, join a discussion moderated by Marcus Logan, Manager, Community Development and Engagement with:

  • Alison Yntema, Community Engagement, Community Engagement and Programming Librarian from Oshawa Public Libraries, Mandy Jones, Children’s Caseworker at the Denise House to learn how their unique community partnership supports women and children who have experienced violence in Durham Region by connecting them to resources and programs that encourage positive change and forward mobility.
  • Lisa Worobec, CEO, Petawawa Public Library to discuss how library staff in agricultural areas can learn more about their migrant farmworker neighbours and how to work together to identify and address gaps in services and build a more accessible, inclusive library community.
  • Richard Thornley, Manager of Adult Services, Edmonton Public Library, to learn how their unique community outreach programs support and connect those who have experienced homelessness and/or domestic violence to resources and programs that encourage positive change and forward mobility.
About the speakers:
  • Alison Yntema, Community Engagement, Community Engagement and Programming Librarian from Oshawa Public Libraries
  • Lisa Worobec, CEO Petawawa Public Library
  • Mandy Jones, Children’s Caseworker at the Denise House
  • Marcus Logan, Manager, Community Development and Engagement
  • Richard Thornley, Manager of Adult Services, Edmonton Public Library

Registration Pricing

OLA Members: $75
Non-Member PLUS: $100 (includes a six-month membership)
Non-Member: $120
Staff at First Nations Public Libraries: $0
Group Pricing: please email for rates for groups of 5+


If you need assistance in registering email us at


Brandi Gillett (Co-Chair), Community Librarian, Halton Hills Public Library

Tracy Munusami (Co-Chair), Chief Executive Officer, New Market Public Library

Alison Yntema, Community Engagement & Programming Librarian, Oshawa Public Libraries

Loretta Tang, Senior Services Specialist, Community Outreach & Engagement, Toronto Public Library

Julia Campbell, Adult Services Librarian, Ajax Public Library

Selina Long, Adult Services Librarian, Milton Public Library

Jan Dawson (OPLA Liaison), Library Service Manager, North York Central Library 

A community-led approach to librarianship focuses on working collaboratively with community, including socially excluded individuals or those with barriers to library services, to understand the needs of the community and in turn, to inform the direction of the library’s work and policies.  By engaging with our community we ensure that our work reflects the local population and ensures that services are relevant to members of the community. A community-led approach puts community members in the position of being the “experts” regarding their own needs and encourages them to realize their potential. Libraries can play a significant role in creating the right conditions and opportunities to allow everyone the ability to pursue a better future.

1.  Mandate

To develop a vision and set of best practices for Ontario public library systems to engage the community and develop a set of criteria to effectively measure those efforts.

2.  Terms of Reference

  a.    Committee
The committee will consist of five to eight members representing small, medium and large library systems as well as northern and aboriginal interests. Of the committee members, two will act as co-chairs. The committee will report to the OPLA Council.

  b.    Commitment
Committee members can expect to participate in a minimum of three to five meetings per year (combination of teleconference and in-person). The combined meeting and workload time is estimated at up to six days per year on average spread out over the course of the year. Each member will serve a three year term. OPLA will cover meeting expenses within the approved annual budget.

  c.    Benefits
Volunteers serving on this committee will have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of individuals, all of whom have an interest in or experience with community-led library service models. Committee members will have input and access to best practices and templates which may be implemented in individual workplaces.

  d.    Qualifications
OPLA seeks members who have interest in helping to establish this new committee and define the community-led service model. Interested individuals should have experience in community engagement, relationship building and thinking outside of the box. The committee shall be comprised of current OPLA members in good standing.

3.    Goals and Activities   

   a. Annual Community-Led Think Tank
   b. FIMS case studies that can be shared with Ontario library systems
   c. Community-Led sessions as part of the annual OLA Super Conference
   d. Establish an interactive best practices database
   e. Development of measurement criteria that accurately reflects community-led efforts focusing on outcomes  
   f.  Provincial focus and operationalization of the Community-Led Libraries Toolkit.

November 2021: Virtual

October 3, 2019: London Public Library

October 1, 2018: North York Central Library

May 22, 2015: Western University