Research Participation Policy

Effective Date: January 24, 2022


Toronto Public Library (the Library) is often approached by organizations and individuals with requests for the Library's support or participation in Research. The Library welcomes and supports Research that enhances the Library's capacity to understand resident and community needs, measure outcomes and impacts and, where applicable, to strengthen the achievement of the Library's strategic, service, and operational priorities while advancing equity.

The Research Participation Policy (the Policy) outlines the criteria the Library will use to determine whether it will accept a request to support or participate in Research for which the Library is not an owner, a sponsor, or a co-sponsor. The objectives of the Policy are to:

The Policy outlines and communicates how the Library will prioritize Research requests from organizations and individuals, including:

(Note that for the purposes of this Policy, all of the groups referenced above that are within scope of the Policy will be referred to as the “Researcher.” A full definition can be found in the Definition of Terms section at the end of this document.)


The Policy applies to requests where the design, methodology, implementation, or publication of the Research is primarily the responsibility of the applicant or organization and the conditions of the Library's participation are outlined in a Research Participation Agreement (the Agreement) signed between the Researcher and the Library. It applies to external parties who request the Library's support or participation in Research in which the Researcher is seeking to do one or a combination of the following:

The following are out of the scope of this Policy, and will be considered through other Library processes as applicable:

Underlying Principles

Toronto Public Library's Research Participation Policy is founded on the following underlying principles:

Policy Statement

In keeping with its vision to be a world leading library, the Library applies an evidence-informed approach to deliver excellent, comprehensive, and efficient public library service that reflects the needs of Toronto's diverse communities and residents.

The Library also recognizes the importance of data and information sharing to the improvement of public services. In accordance with its Open Data Policy, the Library proactively provides access to non-identifiable data through its web portal, Toronto Public Library Open Data.

The Library encourages and welcomes Research requests from Researchers from various sectors and perspectives; however, the Library's support of a Research undertaking does not imply an endorsement of the Researcher, including their associates, sponsors, or co-sponsors.

1. General


The Library's priority is to support Research that contributes to development, enhancement and evaluation of its facilities, programs and services.


The Library does not support, and will withdraw from, a Research undertaking where the Library's support or participation would undermine the Library's vision, mission, or values.


The Library's priority is to advance excellence in public library service, including the following outcomes:

1.4 The Library will not support or participate in Research:


Research activities must not be intrusive or in conflict with the Library's welcoming and supportive environment, including an environment which is conducive to study and enjoyable use of the Library space.


All Researchers or their associates, as well as Research Participants, are subject to all applicable Library policies, including the Rules of Conduct, Employee Code of Conduct, and the Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy.

2. Prioritization and Review


The Library will prioritize requests from the City or service partners that support delivery of Library services, and public services that contribute to a shared outcome, including Research that:


All Research requests must include a completed Research Request Form (the Request Form) submitted to the Library, including all required information and supporting materials.

3. Conflict of Interest


The Library will not support or participate in a Research initiative where there is a real, potential, or perceived conflict of interest between the Library or its affiliates, including the Toronto Public Library Foundation (the Foundation) and the Researcher, their associate, sponsor, or co-sponsor.


Where there is a potential or perceived conflict of interest, the Researcher must proactively provide a disclosure statement to that effect, including mitigation measures satisfactory to the Library, otherwise the Library will not accept the request.

4. Information Privacy


The Library recommends and upholds a privacy-by-design approach to handling of personal data and information.


The Researcher must comply with all applicable privacy legislation, including the principles of the MFIPPA as elaborated below.


Prior to approving a request, the Library will assess the Research methodology and instruments to ensure that data collection will be limited to the purposes of the Research.


The Researcher must include with their Research request, the purpose for collecting the Research Participant's data, for how long the data will be kept, and in what manner it will be stored.


The Researcher must seek and receive the Research Participant's express consent prior to collecting their data or information. Consent must be received from a parent or guardian where vulnerable persons are involved, including minor children and adults under guardianship.


The Consent Form must include a clear statement requesting the Research Participant's express consent to provide their personal data and information to the Researcher, and the Participant's right to withdraw their consent.


The Researcher must provide the following information to the Research Participant in the Consent Form or in addition to it:


Considerations must be made to protect against the misuse of the Research Participants' personal data and information, or their expressed views, especially where the Participants are vulnerable individuals such as seniors, individuals experiencing homelessness, or any individuals with a compromised capacity for self determination.


The Researcher must include with their Research Request Form, a data protection protocol that is satisfactory to the Library, including the Researcher's procedures for handling data breaches.


The Library reserves the right to cancel the Research Participation Agreement where the Researcher is in violation of the privacy requirements outlined above.

5. Ethics and Equity


The Library recognizes the individual rights of all Library Customers to determine if they wish to participate in a Library-approved Research, and the conditions under which they will participate.


Because the Library is a shared space, and some individuals may not wish to participate in the Research, the Library will not permit the Researcher to employ observational Research methodology.


The Library is committed to advancing its values of equity and inclusion, and will not approve a Research proposal that, upon the Library's assessment, imposes unmitigated burdens on equity-deserving groups.


The Library reserves the right to refuse a Research request, or cancel a Research Participation Agreement, where and whenever it determines that the Research does not align with its values.


As part of the Research Participation Agreement, the Researcher will be required to comply with the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans - TCPS 2 (2018, or later).


The Library will take precautionary measures to ensure ethical conduct of Researchers by monitoring for ethics violations related to Research conducted at the Library. Library Customers, including Research Participants, will have the right to withdraw from the Research, raise a complaint, or have their data and information destroyed.

6. Access to Research Reports and Publications


The Library expects Research conducted with the aid of its facilities or data to add to its civic value. Researchers must be willing, able, and ready to provide free public access to their Research reports or publications.


As part of the Research Participation Agreement, the Library will require the Researcher to comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications.

7. Room Booking Under the Community and Event Space Rental Policy


This section applies to room booking under the Library's Community and Event Space Rental Policy, whereby a room is booked for the purpose of conducting Research or consultation, but the Library has no involvement in the Research or consultation, and is not a direct beneficiary of the Research.


The Library will not allow a room booking, or otherwise permit the use of the Library space, for the purpose of soliciting Research Participants without a signed Research Participation Agreement.


Library spaces may be booked to conduct Research or consultation where the sponsoring parties have invited their own Participants and only require the space to conduct their meetings.


Where the Library space is booked under the Community and Event Space Rental Policy, the Researcher and Research Participants must observe all applicable Library policies, including the Rules of Conduct. Library employees, in their capacity as Researchers, must abide by the Employee Code of Conduct.

8. Exclusions and Other Considerations


The Library will review Research requests for their potential value and impact, considering the benefit to the broader library community and the risk to Participants.


Research requests will not be processed, and will subsequently be denied where the submission does not include all required information and materials specified in the Research Request Form.


Requests will be denied, or the Research Participation Agreement cancelled, where the Research disrupts Library services, or otherwise interferes with the enjoyment of the Library space.


Requests will be denied where the Library lacks the resource capacity, including human resources, to support or participate in the Research, or where the proposed timelines are in conflict with other Library priorities.

9. Cancellation


The Library reserves the right to cancel the Research Participation Agreement in the event that the Researcher violates any of the Library's policies, including this Policy.

10. Denial of Request and Cancellation of Research Participation Agreement


The Library reserves the right to deny a Research request or cancel the Research Participation Agreement. A request may be denied or an Agreement cancelled as provided for in this Policy and the Agreement.


Where a request is denied or an Agreement is cancelled, the Researcher may, upon request, have the decision reviewed by the City Librarian, whose decision shall be final.


The Director of Policy, Planning and Performance Management is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of this Policy in collaboration with other divisions, acting as subject matter experts.

Related Legislation

Related Library Policies

Definition of Terms

Consent Form means a standard written agreement through which the Researcher seeks and receives consent from the Research Participant or, where the Participant lacks capacity, the Participant's legal guardian, allowing the Researcher to gather data or information from the Participant for the purposes of the Research.

Equity-deserving groups means “Communities that face significant collective challenges in participating in society because of institutional and societal barriers to equal access, opportunities and resources due to disadvantage and discrimination. These groups are due social justice and reparation” (Internal Glossary of Equity and Inclusion Terms, City of Toronto 2021)

Library Customer refers to a person who is registered with the Library or uses its services and is provided access to a full range of in-person and digital library services, including spaces, collections, programs, staff and technology; it also refers a person who is not registered with the Library and who uses select library services and programs.

Research means “Investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery or interpretation of knowledge, the systematic collection or revision of knowledge in light of new facts or theories, the development and application of methodologies to increase knowledge and the practical application of knowledge to specific problems or circumstances” (University of Toronto Governing Council 2013). “It is an undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquiry and/or systematic investigation” (Government of Canada 2018).

Researcher means an individual or organization who enters into a Research Participation Agreement with the Library and who is either a principal owner, sponsor, or identified as the Research author.

Research Participant (the Participant) means an individual who becomes the subject of the Research and who agrees to provide the Researcher with certain data or information as defined in the Consent Form.

Research Participation Agreement (the Agreement) means an agreement entered into or proposed to be entered into between the Library and the party seeking to undertake a Research initiative at the Library or involving Library customers or staff. It clarifies and confirms mutual expectations and commitments between the Researcher and the Library.

Research Request Form (the Request Form) means an intake form developed by the Library, and in which the Researcher provides mandatory information in expression of their interest to conduct Research at the Library.


Shawn Mitchell:
Policy, Planning & Performance Management

Strategic Advisor - Policy & Research
Policy, Planning & Performance Management