Programming Policy

Effective Date: June 19, 2023


Toronto Public Library (TPL) provides public programming to fulfill its mission to provide equitable access to services which meet the changing needs of Torontonians and to preserve and promote universal access to a broad range of knowledge, experience, information and ideas in a welcoming and supportive environment.

The purpose of this policy is to provide an overview of programming at TPL and what the public should expect when attending programming at TPL. It also ensures TPL’s collaborators and external facilitators are aware of the objectives and expectations of TPL programing. Additionally, this policy provides TPL staff with the necessary framework to assist them in the development and delivery of high quality programming.

Programming is a pillar of the library’s Service Delivery Model.


This policy applies to all programs including collaborative programs.

This policy does not apply to:

Underlying Principles

TPL programs respond to community needs and interests and support the priorities in TPL's Strategic Plan, as well as its Service Delivery Model, and reflect the TPL’s vision, mission and values. Programs promote TPL collections and resources, offer access to professional or subject matter expertise, and build connections between residents and communities.

Programs are facilitated by TPL staff, professional and subject matter experts, authors or performers.

The Programming Policy is driven by principles defined in TPL’s Vision, Mission and Values and TPL’s Equity Statement, TPL’s Intellectual Freedom Statement, and is in keeping with the Canadian Federation of Library Association’s Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries.

Policy Statement

TPL provides programs that:

TPL programs are open to everyone regardless of race, ethnic origin, place of origin, citizenship, colour, ancestry, language, creed (religion), age, sex, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, membership in a union or staff association, receipt of public assistance, level of literacy or any other similar factor.

However, TPL reserves the right to limit attendance based on considerations of the program—for example, programs based on age, or space limitations. Program attendance requires compliance with TPL policies, including the Rules of Conduct.

TPL does not charge for programs under most circumstances. Exceptions may be made to cover direct costs when the program could not otherwise be offered.

Programs may require library membership, i.e. a library card.

  1. Program Development and Delivery
    • 1.1 Programs developed and delivered by TPL will meet its strategic priorities and service delivery standards, and will have clearly defined goals, target audiences, descriptions, outcomes and objectives.
    • 1.2 Data collected for all programs will be reviewed annually. A regular cycle of program evaluation will occur within TPL’s evaluation framework. Evaluation will include feedback from staff, participants, and collaborators
    • 1.3 Generally, external presenters delivering programs will not solicit business, customers or volunteers, or market their commercial products or services. Exceptions made in service of strategic objectives must be approved by the appropriate Director.
    • 1.4 Programs will be developed and delivered in compliance with all TPL policies, including the Rules of Conduct, the Employee Code of Ethics and the Conflict of Interest Policy.
    • 1.5 Programs will be delivered by qualified staff or subject matter experts, as appropriate. Programs will contribute to TPL’s safe, supportive and welcoming environment. Presenters to vulnerable groups must be in compliance with TPL’s Police Reference Check Policy.
    • 1.6 Programs will be developed with consideration for the principles of accessibility, equity and inclusiveness. These include, but are not limited to, access for persons with disabilities, and delivery at times and locations and through channels that maximize convenience and encourage attendance by the target audience.
    • 1.7 TPL programs may cover a range of topics and ideas which are of current interest and possible future significance, including topics and ideas which reflect current conditions, trends and controversies. As with other TPL services, children's access to programming is the responsibility of parents and guardians.
    • 1.8 Programs may be developed in response to requests from the City of Toronto in support of specific City service goals. Programs may also be developed and delivered through collaboration between TPL and other external organizations.
    • 1.9 TPL accepts proposals for programs from external organizations and individuals, and evaluates them according to the criteria in this policy. TPL cannot respond to all proposals. Approval of a previous program proposal does not guarantee that an organization or individual will be asked to offer the program or have future proposals approved.
    • 1.10 Program presenters/facilitators must always ensure the dignity and safety of the public and staff in accordance with TPL policies and standards. Misrepresentation of a program, a likelihood of physical hazard to participants or audiences, a likelihood of misuse of premises or equipment, non-compliance with TPL policies, including the Rules of Conduct, may all constitute reasons to terminate a program.
  2. Reconsideration of a Program
    • 2.1 The Library believes that a vital society encourages members of its community to actively participate in an open exchange of ideas and opinions. The Library offers a wide selection of programs inspired by the informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs and interests of the diverse communities it serves.
    • 2.2 The content or manner of expressing ideas in programs that is purposely selected to fill the needs of some Library customers, may, on occasion, be considered to be offensive by other Library customers. The Library recognizes the right of any individual or group to reject library programs for personal use, but does not accord to any individual or group the right to restrict the freedom of others to attend that same program.
    • 2.3 TPL welcomes suggestions, compliments or feedback about library services in accordance with the Customer Service Feedback Standards & Practices.
    • 2.4 Library customers who object to specific programs may submit a written request for reconsideration, if they feel that the content of the program is not consistent with the criteria outlined in this policy or TPL's Intellectual Freedom and Equity Statements.
    • 2.5 Requests for reconsideration will be considered by staff and a response communicated to the customer who submitted the request following completion of a staff review. Programs will proceed while the request is being reviewed.
    • 2.6 If the customer who submitted the request is not satisfied with the response, they may submit a written appeal within seven days of the response to have the response reviewed by the City Librarian, whose decision shall be final. This may occur after the program has taken place.
    • 2.7 An annual report on intellectual freedom challenges to Library materials and services is provided to the Toronto Public Library Board.


The Director of Service Development and Innovation has overall accountability for programming as a service pillar.

Within their divisions, the Directors, Branch Operations and Customer Experience; Service Development and Innovation; Communications, Programming and Customer Engagement; and Collections and Membership Services are responsible for the delivery of programs that reflect the service needs and interests of local communities and the delivery of designated events and programs. This responsibility includes, but is not limited to, the allocation of program budget, the development of program priorities and training.

The Director, Policy, Planning and Performance Management, is responsible for supporting evaluation and statistical reporting related to programming.

The Directors are accountable for ensuring compliance with the Programming Policy in their respective areas.

Related Legislation

Related Library Policies and Statements

Related Standards, Procedures, and Guidelines

Definition of Terms

A program is defined as an event having a presentation component and lasting 30 minutes or longer. A program could be a single event or a series of events, be a scheduled or a pop-up event, take place inside or outside of a branch, or take place online.
Collaborative Program

A collaborative program is a type of collaboration with an external organization. The collaboration can be a one-time program, one-time series or ongoing program or series.

Roles and responsibilities of TPL and the organization are documented in a Collaborative Program Agreement.

Vulnerable Group:
In accordance with TPL's Police Record Check Policy, a vulnerable group is composed of “persons who, because of their age, disability, or other circumstance, either temporarily or permanently, are in a position of dependence on others, or are at a greater risk than the general population of being harmed by persons in a position of authority or trust.”


Director, Service Development and Innovation