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Library Programming Partnership

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Library Programming Partnership

Richmond Hill Public Library & Pickering Public Library

Education - Children & Adults | 2023 | Honorable Mention

Innovation Synopsis

Public libraries collaborate on policies, advocacy, and experiences. But operationally, we all tend to work independently even though we offer the same services. That led to a new Library Programming Partnership – 18 systems across the Greater Toronto Area that pool resources to offer more and higher quality programming to their users.


Our collaborative programming model is rooted in two key insights:

  1. It’s hard for small/mid-size library systems to attract top talent for programs on their own because they don’t have the budgets or audience reach.
  2. Public libraries offer similar services, share the same values, target similar audiences, face the same budget and resource constraints, and are not competitive with each other. Yet, we all duplicate our programming work - developing the same programs on our own and often even hiring the same partners.

Key Elements of Innovation

We all run similar programs on our own. So we co-founded a library partnership that leverages the power of the whole. Working together, we plan and deliver bigger and better programs that reach a wider audience – all with existing people and money. The network:

  • Equitably pools human and financial resources
  • Shares contact databases
  • Leverages each other’s ideas and strengths
  • Co-brands marketing materials

This is a multi-sided business model innovation in the library sector that both captures and creates new value.

Achieved Outcomes

Qualitative and quantitative outcomes including

  • Pilot of 5 libraries expanded to 16 in 2022, now in 18 cities & 3 regions
  • 2 multi-program literacy series, 2 DEI prgms, 3 skills-building prgms
  • Appx $800 savings per program per library
  • Estimated more than 13,000 attendees
  • Higher quality programs that couldn’t be done on our own
  • Higher profile programs increase local library awareness
  • Other knowledge and experience exchanges (eg intellectual freedom challenges, data)
  • Future plans include space and tech sharing

Submitted on behalf of the following partnership libraries:

  • Ajax Public Library
  • Aurora Public Library
  • Caledon Public Library
  • Clarington Public Library
  • East Gwillimbury Public Library
  • Georgina Public Library
  • King Township Public Library
  • Markham Public Library
  • Mississauga Public Library
  • Newmarket Public Library
  • Oshawa Public Library
  • Pickering Public Library
  • Richmond Hill Public Library
  • Scugog Public Library
  • Uxbridge public Library
  • Vaughan Public Libraries
  • Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library
  • Whitby Public Library