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

Browse a list of past winners.

Shortlist of nominees

These are the 2022 short list nominees for the Minister’s Award for Innovation and the Angus Mowat Award of Excellence.

We will announce the winners at the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference on February 3, 2023.

Bracebridge Public Library

Party in the Park

All libraries are faced with the issue of staying relevant to their ever-changing communities. This project could be replicated in any community with a variety of partners. This project was a totally new approach to engaging the community for our library and the Town of Bracebridge. It allowed our team to think outside of the box and push through the long-standing perception of the library in our community.

Brighton Public Library

Supporting Learning at Home

Throughout the pandemic, it became apparent that there was increasing need for library staff to educate themselves on home-school learning and use that knowledge to improve support for our local home-school community. To collaborate with other libraries and professionals, meant a gathering of ideas and resources and a sharing of experiences with a wider audience. This initiative has meant more support for homeschool communities and an expanding network of resources. As we engage more with our local groups, we learn more about their needs and can tailor future projects to meet them.

Caledon Public Library

Community Connections

Caledon Public Library is committed to empowering community connections and building and connecting a thriving, engaged and informed Caledon. The library, Bethell Hospice and Caledon Community Services have established unique and growing partnerships which extend the reach of digital library services and to help bridge the digital divide. This initiative supports the Caledon community by helping them to connect with loved ones, attend virtual events, gather information, alleviate isolation, and by providing them with access to critical services and resources during challenging times.

Champlain Township Public Library

Discovery Kits

During the pandemic our patrons were struggling with at-home schooling, meeting curriculum requirements and making learning fun. We wanted to find a way to engage kids and parents in the learning process. Our Discovery Kits were designed to be take-home units with all learning materials included (reading materials, activity sheets and hands on experiments). Parents, home-schoolers and caregivers have found these kits to be of great value in supporting and grabbing the interest of students.

Halton Hills Public Library

Connexions Culturelles

The Halton Hills Public Library historically underserved its local Francophone community due to a lack of resources. Funding provided by the Francophone Community Grants Program allowed HHPL and the Town of Halton Hills to build meaningful relationships with the Francophone community, develop bilingual or French-language programs for all ages, revitalize and expand its French collections, and preserve the community’s history. Francophone services continue to thrive after the grant, demonstrating how a renewed commitment to minority groups in your community can lead to sustained public service excellence.

Huron County Library

In Your Backyard

The In Your Backyard program showcased strategic problem solving by addressing the needs of patrons who were seeking connections and community engagement with local businesses (particularly those in the tourism sector) that were in a state of rebuilding. Established community members and newcomers alike were able to learn more about the hidden gems found right in their own backyard. The program highlighted local communities and businesses. The program also gave people the chance to safely get out of their homes in what may have been the first time for some since the start of the pandemic. The many partners involved resulted in a program that was dynamic and inclusive.

Innisfil Public Library

Monarch Butterfly Rearing Program

The Monarch Butterfly Rearing Program has reached beyond traditional library services to engage residents of all ages with nature and science, and inspire them to take action in their own yards and neighbourhoods. The program continues to expand each year, with more programming and opportunities for engagement, expansion of our gardens, and involvement of more staff and partners. We share our expertise and experience with other public libraries, and with our municipality to expand awareness and impact of the program across our municipality and across the province.

Nipigon Public Library

A Superior Adventure

It takes a holistic approach to integrate libraries into the lives of our citizens. “A Superior Adventure” emphasizes the picturesque beauty of being outdoors on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The challenges encourage community awareness and well-being and are accessible by those of all ages and abilities. Due to Northern geography and population, our three libraries rely on the same businesses and media for support. Our partnership reduces staff time, competition for media coverage and donor fatigue by sharing instead of competing.

Pembroke Public Library

Diversity and inclusion: a united community

This project has had an immensely positive impact on the community. This project was planned in the spirit of celebrating the diversity of the city, while providing space and inclusive spaces for all community to proudly express their culture, heritage and identity. Events include the Multicultural Festival (the largest of its kind in Pembroke's history), Drag Queen Storytime (first ever in Renfrew County), Bonnechere Inodewiziwin Abinodjinish Kikinamagan’s (BIAK) myths and legends, and food drive with the Grind Pembroke. There's been a noticeable cultural shift in Renfrew County and our library is proud to be an inspiration.

Pickering Public Library

Pickering Public Library Anti-Black Racism Working Group

The Pickering Public Library Anti-Black Racism Working Group (ABRWG) is a community-based group, focusing on Library services with a lens of anti-Black racism. Residents that form the ABRWG review community feedback and collaborate with library staff to create recommendations and actions for Public Librarians focused on systemic discrimination impacting the library experience for community members who self-identify as Black. The ABRWG exemplifies the strength of community and collaborating to design for better and better and has shaped new best practices to help the library fulfill its commitment to excellence in the delivery of public library service. This group demonstrates the power of rethinking and reframing with lived experiences at the core of every discussion and decision.

Richmond Hill Public Library

Team Creativity Day — Open House Booths

The Richmond Hill Public Library provided spaces for Richmond Hill Public Library and City of Richmond Hill information technology team members to showcase existing best practices, as well as new strategic ones that will guide the library's future. Through their visits to each of the booths, library team members gained information that they can share with customers and participated in fun activities that allowed them to contribute feedback on different service and design plans that are currently in development at the library.

Richmond Hill Public Library

York and Durham Region Collaborative Programming Model

The Richmond Hill Public Library collaborated with sixteen other libraries from across York and Durham Regions to develop a new model to plan, resource, and run certain programs. By pooling together their ideas, networks, people and budgets, they were able to provide their communities with higher quality programs at a lower cost and effort; programs that they would not have been able to offer their communities on their own. The model leverages the collective strengths of the libraries to offer new and improved programming.

Toronto Public Library

Library Social Story

In response to hearing from parents and caregivers of children with disabilities and those who are Deaf, that they often do not feel welcome in the library and do not feel represented in library promotional materials, TPL responded with the creation of a Library Social Story. This initiative is an excellent example of how public libraries can make their services more accessible while also modeling best practices in community-engagement, service design and design-thinking.

Vaughan Public Libraries

Belonging Initiative

Public libraries have a long tradition of embracing and supporting diversity, equity, inclusion. VPL's mission is to offer welcoming destinations that educate, excite, and empower our community, and it is our role as a community hub to provide safe, welcoming spaces for all members of the community and our staff. The Belonging Initiative at Vaughan public libraries is an all-encompassing movement toward diversity, equity and inclusion across the entire organization — in our corporate culture, our operations and our relationship with the community, through services, resources, programming and spaces.

Vaughan Public Libraries

COVID-19 Data Analytics and Research Team

Partnering with the City of Vaughan, Vaughan Public Library’s (VPL) research was used by Vaughan's manager of emergency planning to anticipate how next waves of COVID-19 virus would impact the City of Vaughan. It improved the emergency management team's situational awareness beyond York Region and was shared across the province, helping their colleagues with situational awareness. The VPL Team also prepared a report on the transmissibility of COVID-19 from fomites (surfaces). It was submitted to relevant provincial ministries and the premier, resulting in the removal of the requirement to isolate returned materials from provincial regulations.

Waterloo Public Library

Teen Events Team

The Waterloo Public Library Teen Events Team is rooted in teen-led programming where teens create and facilitate programming engaging youth across Waterloo. The Teen Events Team evolved in 2020 as a response to a gap in community-wide programming for youth. Since this shift to teen-led programming in 2020, our Teen Events Team has grown exponentially into a diverse group of youth from across Waterloo resulting in more teens participating, an increase in leadership skills, and a deeper sense of belonging for teens in the community.