Open Data

Effective Date: April 30, 2018

Policy Objective

This policy establishes the guiding principles by which Toronto Public Library data is to be made available to the public. The underlying principles of accessibility, transparency and accountability in the Open Data Policy enable Toronto Public Library to provide public data for the public good. The Open Data Policy is meant to eliminate barriers and provide free and equitable, access to library data so that members of the public use and are encouraged to collaborate with Toronto Public Library using open data sets. By providing valuable, Machine Readable data to the public, the Open Data Policy aligns with the broader Mission and Vision of the Toronto Public Library as an internationally leading institution that preserves and promotes universal access to a broad range of human knowledge, experience, information and ideas in a welcoming and supportive environment.

Underlying Principles

The Toronto Public Library adopts the following guiding principles1 for open data and recognizes these principles as providing the necessary structure for public sector engagement with open government and to ensure that data is open, accessible and reusable:

  1. Open by Default: Free access to, and use of, open data is of significant value to society and the economy; hence, it should be open by default unless it compromises personal data or privacy rights.
  2. Timely and Comprehensive: To be of value, open data should be prioritized given the needs from users and the resources needed for publication. It must be comprehensive, accurate, and of high quality.
  3. Accessible and Usable: Open data should be easily discoverable, widely accessible, and made available without bureaucratic or administrative barriers that would deter people from accessing it.
  4. Comparable and Interoperable: To be most effective and useful, open data should be in structured and standardized formats that enable comparison within and between sectors, locations, and over time.
  5. Improved Governance and Citizen Engagement: Open data strengthens trust in government by enhancing transparency around decision-making, increasing visibility into how society’s needs are being met, and empowering civic participation.
  6. Non-proprietary: No entity has exclusive control over the datasets.
  7. Licencing: Library data is subject to the Open Government Licence of the Toronto Public Library. Dataset users are granted a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive licence to use information for commercial purposes. Use includes the ability to copy, modify, publish, translate, adapt, distribute, or otherwise use the information in any medium, mode or format for any lawful purpose. The Open Government Licence requires acknowledgement of the source of the information by inclusion of an attribution statement.
  8. Long Term Preservation of Datasets: Datasets made available online should remain online, with appropriate version-tracking and archiving over time where applicable and available.
  9. Usage Costs: Datasets are to be used free-of-charge.
  10. Inclusive Development and Innovation: The Toronto Public Library will aim to enable everyone to understand and use open data effectively so that benefits generated from it are not limited only to those with specific tools and resources.

1These principle are derived from the International Open Data Charter (ODC). A previous iteration relied upon the Sunlight Foundation’s rules for Open Data. The ODC is the result of an international collaboration developed to help governments maximize open data. These principles were adopted by the City of Toronto and are modified to reflect the licensing arrangements of the Toronto Public Library.

Policy Statement

Library data sets are available at Toronto Public Library aspires to have an Open by Default orientation as part of a comprehensive approach to making data more readily available to the public. Additional data sets will be released as determined by Library staff based on the following considerations:

  1. Public demand;
  2. Value to the library sector including academia; and
  3. Resources required to extract and format data.

The Toronto Public Library maintains an open channel of communication with community members and encourages members of the public to contact the Toronto Public Library with suggestions regarding the release of data. This orientation fosters greater opportunities for co-creation, co-delivery and an open source approach to the development of the Toronto Public Library’s Open Data platform. Customers can provide feedback on data sets via the Contact Us page.

Datasets released as Open Data will meet the following requirements:

  1. Does not include personal information protected pursuant to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
  2. in a file format that is recognized as being reasonably appropriate for Open Data;
  3. part of a dataset generated by the Library and upon which the Library relies;
  4. machine readable; and
  5. not subject to any legal (including contract), public safety, or other restrictions that would prohibit the Library from releasing it as open data.

It is inherent within the nature of Open Data for more inferences to be drawn as an increasing number of data sets become available. Toronto Public Library strives to balance the need for anonymized data while preserving protections surrounding the personal information of TPL customers.


The Director of Policy, Planning & Performance Management is responsible for ensuring data provided to Digital Services and Emerging Technologies is posted on the Library website in accordance with this policy.


"Dataset" means a collection of raw, non-manipulated data usually presented in tabular form with associated metadata, and which is machine readable.

"Machine Readable Data" means data in a form that a computer can process.


Schedule 1 - Open Government Licence - Toronto Public Library


You are encouraged to use the Information that is available under this licence with only a few conditions.

    Using Information under this licence
  1. Use of any Information indicates your acceptance of the terms below.
  2. The Information Provider grants you a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive licence to use the Information, including for commercial purposes, subject to the terms below.
  3. You are free to:
  4. Copy, modify, publish, translate, adapt, distribute or otherwise use the Information in any medium, mode or format for any lawful purpose.
  5. You must, where you do any of the above:
  6. Acknowledge the source of the Information by including any attribution statement specified by the Information Provider and, where possible, provide a link to this licence. If the Information Provider does not provide a specific attribution statement, or if you are using Information from several information providers and multiple attributions are not practical for your product or application, you must use the following attribution statement:
  7. Contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence - Toronto Public Library.

  8. The terms of this licence are important, and if you fail to comply with any of them, the rights granted to you under this licence, or any similar licence granted by the Information Provider, will end automatically.
  9. Exemptions
  10. This licence does not grant you any right to use:
    1. Personal Information;
    2. Information not accessible under the Ontario Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
    3. Third party rights the Information Provider is not authorized to licence;
    4. The names, crests, logos, or other official symbols of the Information Provider; and
    5. Information subject to other intellectual property rights, including patents, trade-marks and official marks.
  11. Non-endorsement
  12. This licence does not grant you any right to use the Information in a way that suggests any official status or that the Information Provider endorses you or your use of the Information.
  13. No Warranty
  14. The Information is licensed "as is", and the Information Provider excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities, whether express or implied, to the maximum extent permitted by law.
  15. The Information Provider is not liable for any errors or omissions in the Information, and will not under any circumstances be liable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, consequential, or other loss, injury or damage caused by its use or otherwise arising in connection with this licence or the Information, even if specifically advised of the possibility of such loss, injury or damage.
  16. Governing Law
  17. This licence is governed by the laws of the province of Ontario and the applicable laws of Canada.
  18. Legal proceedings related to this licence may only be brought against the Information Provider in the courts of the Province of Ontario.
  19. Definitions
  20. In this licence, the terms below have the following meanings:
    means information resources or Records protected by copyright or other information resources or Records that are offered for use under the terms of this licence.
    "Information Provider"
    means the Toronto Public Library.
    "Personal Information"
    means "personal information" as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Ontario Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
    means "Records" as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Ontario Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
    means the natural or legal person or body of persons corporate or incorporate, acquiring rights under this licence.
  21. Versioning
  22. This is version 1.0 of the Open Government Licence - Toronto Public Library. The Information Provider may make changes to the terms of this licence from time to time and issue a new version of the licence. Your use of the Information will be governed by the terms of the licence in force as of the date you accessed the information.