Community-Led Think Tank

One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Equity in Community Engagement

Thursday November 25, 2021. 2:00pm – 3:30pm EST. Hosted in Zoom.

Libraries need to serve all members of the community; however, traditional engagement strategies may not be suitable for all community groups. From language barriers to challenges with accessibility, libraries are adapting their community development strategies to be more inclusive. Participants will learn how public libraries are engaging different equity-seeking groups (i.e. visible minorities, Indigenous communities, people with disabilities) in their communities.

Following the presentations, participants will gather in breakout groups to share ideas, best practices and learn from each other. About the Speakers:  Kelli Morning Bull Indigenous Service Lead, Calgary Public Library Kelli Rae Morning Bull is a Blackfoot member of the Piikani Nation and is the Indigenous Service Design Lead at Calgary Public Library. Her educational background in TV/Film and Communications has been instrumental in the development of virtual programs during the pandemic. Her cultural knowledge and community awareness has strengthened relationships with Indigenous communities and resulted in innovative and creative ways to educate Canadians on the current issues Indigenous people face today. Rachel Breau Manager of Member Services, Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA)

Rachel Breau is the Manager of Member Services at CELA. With 19 years of experience working in accessible library services, she has been connecting library patrons with print disabilities, library staff, educators and other professionals to alternate format reading materials and technologies. With a special interest in fostering the enjoyment of reading in children, she is a member of the National Creative Committee of the TD Summer Reading Club. She develops outreach tools and accessibility resources for libraries to offer inclusive programming in their community.

Skye Soobramanie
Librarian, Children & Youth Services, Brampton Public Library

Skye is currently a Librarian of Children & Youth Services at Brampton Library and was previously in the role of Diversity and Adult Services. During her time as a Diversity and Adult Services librarian, she was responsible for overseeing Newcomer services and programs.

Past Events: 

Creating Engaging Family Storytime & Baby Rhyme Time Online Programs with Myke Atkinson, Calgary Public Library.

Watch this session on the OLA YouTube Channel

Online Programming Kit

Teen Discord Servers in Library Programming with Brady Williamson and Matthew Wagner, Pickering Library

About this event: 

The Community-Led Think Tank is held every one or two years. The program is developed by OPLA’s Community Led Committee and explores a different theme at each event. The community-led approach to libraries aims to create a library for the people, by the people. This event is a full day of collaborating, networking and learning about this approach to librarianship.

OPLA’s Community-Led Libraries Think Tank is for you whether you are just getting started with a community-led library approach or you’ve already embraced the concept. The day features an opportunity to discuss themes and issues related to community-led in small groups, to share ideas and best practices and to hear from experts in the field.

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