Overview

A strong library system is the cornerstone of a strong community. It facilitates equity of access to information and contributes to education, literacy and life-long learning in Ontario communities.

Municipal by-laws create Ontario's public libraries and public library boards govern them.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport is responsible for:

Ontario Public Library Service Awards

Learn about the awards that recognize creative library service ideas, including nominees and past winners.


Public library statistics

Read about Ontario public library statistics collected from the past several years.

Carnegie libraries

Browse a list of Carnegie Libraries which are currently in use, repurposed or demolished.

Resources for public libraries

Find associations, organizations and other resources for public libraries in Ontario.

Legislation

Learn about the provincial and federal rules that affect public libraries in Ontario.

Facts

  • In 2021, Ontario public libraries served the public through 1,042 library service points (main libraries, library branches, deposit stations and bookmobile stops) and circulated 93,930,805 items. Public libraries received almost 70 million in-person visits, more than 294 million electronic visits and delivered thousands of programs including:
    • 15,084 early literacy and early learning programs with 448,773 attendees
    • 2,436 programs for immigrants and new Canadians with 35,920 attendees
    • 2,495 maker space, digital media and self-publishing programs with 46,770 attendees
    • 375 career, job help and skills programs with 7,782 attendees
  • Over 99% of Ontarians live in communities served by a public library.
  • Ontario’s first free public libraries were established in Toronto and Guelph in 1883. Between 1903 and 1922, 111 Ontario libraries were constructed with more than $2.5 million in funding from American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
  • Over 4.2 million Ontarians, or nearly 33% of the population, hold a public library card.
  • Ontario libraries have nearly 28.5 million print volumes available to borrow. That’s equivalent to 2.49 books for every Ontarian. They also have over 21.6 million e-resources including e-books. Every library branch in the province provides access to electronic information through the internet.

List of public libraries

  1. A

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  5. E

  6. F

  7. G

  8. H

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  10. J

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  12. L

  13. M

  14. N

  15. O

  16. P

  17. Q

  18. R

  19. S

  20. T

  21. U

  22. V

  23. W