The Ontario Public Library Service Awards recognize Ontario’s public libraries for their creative library service ideas.

There are two awards, each with categories for large, medium, and small libraries:

  • Minister's Award for Innovation recognizes successful new approaches that demonstrate a positive impact in a community and are of continued value to public libraries
  • Angus Mowat Award of Excellence recognizes a commitment to excellence in the delivery of public library service; these services can be old or new and can be ongoing

Each summer, an independent committee of public library sector representatives review award submissions. A shortlist is released during Ontario Public Library Week in October. Winners are announced at the annual Ontario Library Association superconference.

Due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, the most recent Public Library Service Awards were given out in 2019.

Browse the 2019 shortlist of nominees.

2019 winners

Angus Mowat Award of Excellence

Small Library Category – Brighton Public Library for: Pop-up Library

The Brighton Pop Up Library brings library service and library staff out into the community, reaching people who haven’t reached us and building rapport with those that have. This is a mobile version of the library (minus the bookmobile) that operates during summer months, popping up at community events, local businesses and parks. It fosters community partnerships, lifelong learning and inspires creativity and thinking outside the box.

Medium Library Category – Orangeville Public Library for: Cultivating a Culture of Inclusion

The Orangeville Public Library has become a recognized leader in the community as a welcoming and inclusive environment where persons of all ages and all abilities come together and thrive! From the life skills development partnerships to the all-inclusive story times library staff work with community partners to ensure a public space free of discrimination or judgement. This application demonstrates excellence in cultivating a culture of inclusion by providing programing for socially excluded individuals and people who might potentially encounter barriers to library services. On June 2, 2015, at Queen’s Park, Orangeville was one of four individuals/ organizations to receive the inaugural David C. Onley Award for leadership in accessibility and disability issues. As a public service institution within the Town of Orangeville, the Orangeville Public Library (OPL) is committed to helping Orangeville achieve its goal of being a barrier-free community.

Large Library Category – Whitby Public Library for: Bike Month Partnership

Whitby Public Library’s Bike Month Partnership showcases a mutually beneficial relationship with the municipality and demonstrates the ways in which public libraries can help their municipal councils achieve their goals and help advance government priorities such as economic viability, jobs and prosperity, better health, community building, and easing traffic congestion. The unique partnership between the library and active transportation can be replicated and scaled by libraries of any size.

Minister’s Award for Innovation

Small Library Category – The Blue Mountains Public Library (BMPL) for: Reel History

Reel History is a local short documentary film series produced by The Blue Mountains Public Library’s Craigleith Heritage Depot. This BMPL series adds new films annually on key local history topics. The 2019 films: Pathway and Mary Ward are unique from the earlier series as they not only provide access to valuable local history, but through virtual reality (VR), provide access to places which most could not physically visit. These films are a key piece of the library alternative collections and are used in programs, on-site and through circulation.

Medium Library Category – King Township Public Library for: Out-of-the-Box-Collection

King Township Public Library’s Out-of-the-Box Collection has helped propel a new stage in the library’s service evolution. It offers materials beyond books and media, providing users with the opportunity to take their interest off the page. The collection includes telescopes, portable art easels, Wi-Fi hotspots, blood pressure monitors, drafting kits, a parachute, a weeklong temporary membership pass granting access to a Township Fitness Centre and much more. This initiative was introduced in October 2017 and has delighted current users and brought in new users. Non-traditional library items have helped cultivate special community partnerships and programing opportunities. The collection has quickly become popular and the library continues to grow it. The collection helps change the public’s perception of what is available to borrow at the library, exposes the community to new technology and try things they might otherwise have to purchase.

Large Library Category – Brampton Public Library for: Children’s Fine-Free Initiative

Brampton Public Library Board, in May 2018, voted unanimously to eliminate overdue fines on nearly all children’s materials. This decision has positioned Brampton Library as an organization committed to barrier-free access for all Brampton families, as well as a champion of early literacy. We have fostered a closer relationship with our local school boards and other child-centric organizations who are now able to advocate on our behalf for library membership. Brampton Library has received an outpouring of positive responses from Brampton residents and our professional colleagues.

Past winners

Browse a list of past winners.