• Message from the Board Chair

    • Matthew Luloff in a branch

    Message from Matthew Luloff, Chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board and Councillor for Orléans East-Cumberland

    As I begin a new term as Chair of the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) Board, I want to express how extremely proud I am of all OPL accomplished last year. It is an honour to have been re-elected Chair of the OPL Board to continue to advance the work of this outstanding organization that provides an immeasurable amount of good to the residents and communities of our city.

    2022 was a year of major transition for Ottawa Public Library. After ten years of leadership, remarkable productivity, and strengthened governance as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OPL, Danielle McDonald announced her intention to retire and was succeeded by Sonia Bebbington who became OPL’s Chief Librarian/CEO in October. This was also the final year for the 2019-2022 term of Board and the 2019-2022 Term of Board Key Achievements and Legacy Report summarizes the progress the Board made in the last four years – despite the extreme disruption caused by the pandemic. I thank all trustees for their commitment and efforts in maintaining OPL as one of the last true bastions of democracy in our society.

    To that end, OPL introduced one of the strongest intellectual freedom position statements in North America, which will fully take effect later in 2023. Intellectual freedom is a fundamental tenet of a public library, and the new Position Statement will help OPL protect the free exchange of lawful information and ideas, essential for an informed and democratic society.  

    Significant also were the steps OPL took on a path towards reconciliation and relationship-building with the Anishinābe Algonquin Host Nation that will enhance the learning OPL offers to all clients and citizens.  

    The Library put a lot of effort into renovating current facilities and setting up for future growth and improvement. Ādisōke, the landmark shared facility that will showcase Library services and house OPL’s new Central Branch (starting in 2026) celebrated several milestones as it started to visibly rise out of the ground at 555 Albert Street. The Board also approved the development of new branches to serve the Riverside South and Barrhaven communities before the end of the decade.

    OPL’s agility and responsiveness last year was evident in the way they dealt with COVID-19 while steadily delivering a full slate of Library services safely to the community. While the Library started the year with mandatory masks, no seating areas, or in-branch use of newspapers; by the end of 2022, you could once again book a meeting room and enjoy in-branch programming.

    I hope that this 2022 Annual Report brings insight into the tremendous benefit OPL brings to Ottawa’s many and varied communities, and helps you appreciate the importance of Ottawa Public Library.

    Matthew Luloff

    OPL Board Chair and Councillor for Orléans East-Cumberland

  • Board Members

    • Matthew Luloff, Kathy Fisher, Steven Begg , Riley Brockington, Mary-Rose Brown, Allan Higdon, Rawlson King , Catherine Kitts, Carol Anne Meehan, Harvey A. Slack

    Chair: Councillor Matthew Luloff

    Vice-Chair: Kathy Fisher

    Trustees: Steven Begg, Councillor Riley Brockington, Mary-Rose Brown, Allan Higdon, Councillor Rawlson King, Councillor Catherine Kitts (as of April 2022), Councillor Carol Anne Meehan (until March 2022), Harvey A. Slack

  • Message from the Chief Librarian/CEO

    • Sonia Bebbington in branch

    Message from Sonia Bebbington, Chief Librarian/Chief Executive Officer

    In the few quick months since I became Chief Librarian/CEO, I have been immensely impressed by what I see at OPL. Our work has a positive impact on so many people’s daily lives and we have built strong bonds and beneficial partnerships in the community that enrich Ottawa’s social infrastructure. 

    The year 2022 was another successful year for Ottawa Public Library, though it did not start easily for anyone in our city. We first had to deal with the arrival of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 which impacted Library services; then Ottawa saw an unprecedented occupation that closed two OPL branches for nearly a month. The derecho in May once again tested our community, but OPL was available to help its neighbours with its physical collection and by offering a place to work with free WiFi. 

    OPL navigated through the changes and challenges of 2022 smoothly and successfully thanks to a clear and determined commitment to ensure Library services are available to everyone across Ottawa. 2022 saw a return to more normal operations, with increasing circulation and programming. I want to thank OPL staff for their resilience considering the ongoing staffing pressures, and for their dedication in making sure no one in our community was left behind. From sensory program toolboxes for children on the autism spectrum to memory activity toolboxes for adults with dementia, our employees have worked tirelessly to contribute to a more equitable city.

    With the help of the new OPL Board, I am motivated and excited to build upon our solid foundation to bring Ottawa Public Library to the next level. We know our community cares about the library, and we care about our community. We are committed to finding new ways to inspire learning, spark curiosity, and connect people, making OPL even better for all. 

    Sonia Bebbington

    Chief Librarian/CEO

  • Senior Management Team

    • Sonia Bebbington, Chief Librarian/Chief Executive Officer (as of October 31)
    • Danielle McDonald, Chief Executive Officer (until October 30)
    • Anna Basile, Division Manager, Corporate Services
    • Donna Clark, Division Manager, Branch Operations
    • Craig Ginther, Division Manager, Central Library Project
    • Catherine Seaman, Division Manager, Customer Experience
    • Michael Poliwoda, Program Manager, Major Gifts and Partnerships
    • Alexandra Yarrow, Program Manager, Board and Strategic Services
    • Sarah Macintyre, (Acting) Program Manager, Board and Strategic Services (until November 14)
  • 2022 Highlights

    • A woman looking at a book in front of shelves full of library books.

    17 titles

    were challenged in 2022

    Defending your intellectual freedom

    Intellectual freedom is a core value of Ottawa Public Library, and in 2022, OPL continued to vigorously protect the freedom to read and the free and open exchange of lawful information and ideas in a democratic society, respecting individuals’ rights to privacy and choice.

    • In June 2022, the OPL Board approved an updated Intellectual Freedom Position Statement. The revised Statement strengthens OPL’s commitment to intellectual freedom by clarifying responsibilities, increasing transparency, and bringing OPL closer to barrier-free access and equity. The revised statement will be implemented through 2023 by ensuring all relevant administrative policies and practices align with and support it.
      • To increase equity and to uphold the Library’s commitment to open access to information, the Statement eliminates a barrier to Internet access by removing filtering for legal content.
      • To ensure transparency, the Statement outlines a new appeal process for clients seeking a second review of the Library’s decision regarding a request for reconsideration (e.g., challenging a title in the collection).
    • 17 titles in OPL’s collection were challenged this year, which is slightly less than the 25 titles that were challenged in 2021. This is more than twice the average number of challenges between 2016 and 2020.
    • For Freedom to Read Week 2022, OPL published three book lists with an emphasis on graphic novels for youth and adults. The genre, by its format, enables narrative possibilities, allows graphic depictions, often addresses polarizing subjects, and is routinely represented on challenged book lists.
  • OPL’s progress towards Reconciliation

    • Person watching TV in branch

    300 people attended

    the online talk with Bevann Fox, author of Genocidal Love

    In 2022, OPL continued its efforts towards reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples by expanding its partnerships with the Host Nation and by raising awareness and educating the public about Indigenous culture and history. The Library carried out several initiatives to help advance reconciliation:

    • Seven branches were open on September 30, the new statutory holiday for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, offering programs and access to resources about the experiences of Indigenous children and youth in residential schools, and the intergenerational trauma that continues to affect Indigenous families and communities.
    • The Bookmobile visited two local high schools for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation where more than 300 students engaged with OPL to learn more about the trauma and destruction resulting from thousands of Indigenous children being forced to attend residential or day schools where racism and abuse were pervasive. The visits provided resources and information about the history of the residential school system and suggested specific actions that can be taken to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation.
    • To mark National Indigenous History Month, OPL offered simultaneous digital access to electronic copies of Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and there were more than 900 checkouts of the eBook and eAudiobook versions of the title. OPL also nominated Noopiming for the Dublin Literary Award and the profound and innovative novel was one of only six books that made it to the 2022 shortlist.
    • In October, the Board awarded the Order of Friendship to the Kitigan Zibi Anishinābeg First Nation and the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation for their instrumental input to the design of Ādisōke, and for supporting OPL in advancing the organization’s reconciliation efforts.
    • Members of the management team visited the Kitigan Zibi Anishinābeg First Nation in early September and the Central branch team continued to strengthen their relationship with the Anishinābe Algonquin Host Nation. Community visits and meetings with elders and youth from Pikwakanagan and Kitigan Zibi set the stage for collaboration on service planning at Ādisōke.
    • To deepen staff understanding of residential schools and their impact on intergenerational survivors as well as steps that can be taken towards reconciliation, OPL hosted a talk with Kerry Andrews, a descendant of residential school survivors, from Pikwakanagan First Nation. All OPL employees also received a copy of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action booklet.

    Client Feedback

    I absolutely adore @opl_bpo and once again I have to commend them for the wonderful displays and programming they put together for #truthandreconciliationday. They are also giving away bilingual Cree/English copies of When We Were Alone.

  • Ādisōke – Moving closer to a new OPL central branch

    • Group of people at the Adisoke site

    Construction on Ādisōke, home of the future central branch of Ottawa Public Library, is well underway. Set to open in 2026, the modern and iconic facility will become a landmark destination and will deliver a vibrant client experience through public services, exhibitions, and events that will enrich the entire OPL offering across other branches and virtual channels.

    • The project team celebrated the setting of the foundation of Ādisōke in June. Each project partner placed an object of significance – OPL’s was a Library card – into a concrete slab that will become part of the facility’s foundation.
    • All 150 caissons (concrete anchors drilled into the ground) for the foundation have been installed, and in September, concrete started pouring for the foundation walls and the columns for the parking garage. In November, the first suspended floor slabs were poured for the garage and by year-end the facility’s substructure was complete.
    • A new section was created on the OPL website to drive excitement, support transparency, and engage library clients and Ottawa residents with the latest news on this once-in-a-generation project.

    Client Feedback

    Walked past the #Centretown site today, honestly got excited by the impact #Ādisōke will have #Ottawa @LibraryArchives @opl_bpo.

  • Most popular books of 2022 at OPL

    10,644,542 items

    borrowed last year, an increase of 12% over 2021

    OPL is a cultural institution devoted to literacy. We cultivate the joys of reading, learning, discovering, and creating. Here are 2022’s most popular print books based on the number of hold requests.

  • At a Glance

    • 2,613,850

      in-person visits


    • 211,020

      active cardholders


    • 2,376,896

      eBooks and eAudio borrowed


    • 343,021

      digital music, film, video streaming


    • 7,924,625

      physical items borrowed


    • 244,797

      database sessions


  • Building Organizational Capacity


    was the total program attendance for 2022, up 96% from 2021

    Continuing the recovery from COVID-19

    OPL made excellent progress in 2022 to return Library services close to pre-pandemic levels.

    • In January, due to the Omicron wave of COVID-19, OPL exercised renewed caution in delivering services, in response to the effects of the evolving pandemic. Hours of operation were adjusted to provide clients with consistency in response to fluctuating staffing levels. Some Library services such as seating and in-branch use of newspapers and magazines were suspended temporarily until February.
    • In March, regular capacity and some meeting room rentals were back while masks were no longer required, in alignment with Provincial direction.
    • In October, despite ongoing staffing pressures, opening hours at most urban and suburban branches were increased to include Tuesday and Thursday mornings to allow for much-loved early childhood literacy programs.
    • Another step towards going back to pre-pandemic hours of operation, additional hours resumed at some rural locations with Osgoode and Vernon branches both expanding their evening hours on Tuesdays.
  • Expanding Sunday Hours

    • Branch open for business

    To improve access to in-person Library services, OPL clients will now have more opportunity to visit a branch on Sunday.

    • In September, Sunday hours were expanded from afternoons only (1 pm to 5 pm) to full days (10 am to 5 pm) at InfoService and the 10 branches that are open Sunday.

    Client Feedback

    Thank you OPL for the longer opening hours including Sundays, in spite of your staffing shortages!

  • Redesigning the employee experience

    9,672 hours of training

    were provided to staff via the classroom or eLearning

    To better address barriers to library service in the community, OPL recognizes the need to improve the employee experience by creating a collaborative and diverse workplace that supports continuous professional and personal growth, collaboration, and innovation.

    • The Library organized two panels to explore how OPL serves specific communities: in March 2022 focusing on Ottawa’s Muslim community and one in August 2022 ahead of Capital Pride focusing on the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
    • OPL introduced Four Seasons of Reconciliation Training for all employees, a highly recommended online cultural literacy anti-racist course created in collaboration with the First Nations University of Canada and aligned with the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action.
    • The Library and CUPE 503 Library group negotiated a five-year Collective Agreement (through to December 2024) that will bring staff labour relations stability.
  • Promoting the value of OPL

    • Bundled books tied with a ribbon in a book shelf

    26,000 titles

    were added to OPL’s Hoopla Comics collection

    Improving and evolving the collection

    The collection at OPL improves continuously, expanding and adapting to changing demands and supply to ensure the physical and digital catalogue offering is responsive, active, valuable, and balanced to community and client needs.

    • The ongoing war in Ukraine resulted in a large number of newcomers from Ukraine, meeting the threshold of OPL’s Content Services Framework to start a Ukrainian collection. 234 Ukrainian books were added to the World Languages section in November, available at the Main and Beaverbrook branches. They include fiction and non-fiction books in Ukrainian for children mainly, though also include selections for adults.
    • In response to community requests, OPL introduced carbon dioxide monitors. The 28 devices can also be used to measure temperature, relative humidity, and atmospheric pressure, all indicators of indoor air quality.
    • Parents or caregivers can order children’s book bundles tailored to the interest of their young readers by filling out a short form that was added to the OPL website last summer. OPL staff select five books based on the child’s interests and place them on hold for easy pickup at the OPL branch of their choice. 145 book bundles were created using the form in 2022.
    • In December, OPL expanded its digital collection with the launch of Hoopla Comics. More than 26,000 titles are available from major publishers such as DC Comics, Marvel Entertainment, Dark Horse Comics, Archie Comics, Image Comics, and Dynamite Entertainment
    • Four additional digital resources were introduced in 2022:
      • MyHeritage Library Edition, a genealogy database containing billions of historical records from all over the world to support family history research,
      • The Oxford English Dictionary online, comprising the full content of the 20 volumes plus tens of thousands of exclusive new and revised entries accounting for 600 thousand words and 3.5 million quotations,
      • Canada’s Information Resource Centre, providing online access to the Canadian Almanac & Directory, Associations Canada, the Canadian Parliamentary Guide, Canadian Who’s Who, FP Survey Predecessor & Defunct, and
      • CBC Corner, a digital portal that brings CBC's audio, video, and news content together in one place for a more streamlined experience.

    Client Feedback

    Thank you @opl_bpo for keeping my kid book crave manageable without me going bankrupt.

  • Connecting people across Canada

    • Author Katherena Vermette with covers of her English book The break and French book Ligne brisée

    1,657 members

    took part in the bilingual One eRead Facebook group

    OPL, in collaboration with other Canadian Urban Library Council (CULC) libraries and media partner CBC-Radio-Canada, linked people and libraries across Canada for the second bilingual edition of One eRead Canada, a national virtual book club.

    • The Break, by Manitoba Métis author Katherena Vermette, was available with unlimited access in both French and English throughout the month of April. The eBook and eAudiobook versions were borrowed 26,223 times.
    • The English event with Katherena Vermette and the French event with Mélissa Verreault, the translator of the French version, had a total of 556 views.
    • One eRead Canada aligns with CULC’s ongoing campaign, eContent for Libraries, to increase public awareness and advocacy of the eBook and eAudiobook issues, such as content, pricing, and access, currently faced by public libraries in Canada.
  • Empowered by client donation

    More than $60,000

    was raised through general fundraising e-appeals and monthly donations

    More than $60,000 was raised through general fundraising e-appeals and monthly donations, and the generosity of clients helped OPL address the needs of the most vulnerable community members.

    Thanks to Library donors, OPL was able to:

    • Provide materials, services, and programs to vulnerable communities in Ottawa for learning, health, and well-being; and,
    • Bridge the digital divide by providing Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots to families living in shelters, to street-involved youth and women, and other vulnerable residents of the city.
  • Countering disinformation and misinformation

    • Person with a hat reading a book and laughing

    OPL reached 94,359 people

    with an email explaining how the Library helps clients protect themselves against disinformation and misinformation.

    With the increasing volume of misinformation and disinformation flooding information channels, it has become more important than ever for public libraries to provide tools and guidance to support our clients in identifying potentially misleading or inaccurate narratives, so that they can avoid accepting at face value unsubstantiated information. OPL’s Library Month campaign in October, “Read between the lines,’’ focused on how the Library can help counter disinformation and misinformation. Libraries support information literacy skills, and can help clients think critically, increase their awareness, and improve their ability to seek, find, and interpret information.

    • OPL created a list of online resources to counter misinformation and disinformation.
    • During Global Media and Information Literacy Week, OPL partnered with MediaSmarts to deliver two workshops for Library clients: Explore Digital Parenting and Navigate Online Information, which attracted engaged audiences and are available on OPL’s YouTube channel.
    • More than 4,500 people signed up for a Library card during Library Month, and OPL reached 67,252 people on social media in October on the “Read between the lines” theme during Library Month which included giveaways of an OPL “thinking cap” for clients who engaged in the conversation about information literacy.

    Client Feedback

    Loving @opl_bpo’s media literacy campaign, complete with a cheat sheet to avoid being manipulated!

  • Thank you to our partners

    • Accora Village
    • African, Caribbean & Black Wellness Resource Centre
    • Alexander Community Centre
    • Association des auteures et auteurs de l’Ontario français
    • Banff Ledbury Community House
    • Blair Court Community House
    • Books 2 Prisoners
    • Boys and Girls Club
    • Bytown Mac Users Group
    • Carleton Heights Community Centre
    • Carlington Community Centre
    • Catholic Centre for Immigrants
    • Canadian Urban Libraries Council
    • Causeway
    • CBC/Radio-Canada
    • Centre des Services Communautaires Vanier Motel Concorde
    • Centretown Community Health Centre
    • CHEO YouthNet
    • Chrysalis House
    • City of Ottawa
    • City of Ottawa Housing Services
    • Company of Fools
    • Compassionate Ottawa
    • ComputerWise
    • Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est
    • Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario
    • Credit Counseling Society
    • Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre
    • Envirocentre
    • First Words
    • Greenboro Food Pavillion
    • Haven Too Youth Shelter, Fourth Avenue Baptist Church
    • Hazelview Properties
    • Ingenium
    • Integrated Departmental Task Force
    • Integrated Neighbourhood Service Team
    • Interval House Ottawa
    • Jewish Family Services
    • John Howard Society
    • Library and Archives Canada
    • Maison d’amitié
    • MASC
    • Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton
    • Matthew House
    • MediaSmarts
    • Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
    • Michele Heights Community Centre
    • Minawaashin Lodge/STORM
    • National Arts Centre
    • Nepean, Rideau and Osgoode Community Resource Centre (NROCRC)
    • OC Transpo
    • Odawa Native Friendship Centre
    • Ontario Genealogy Society
    • Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries
    • Ottawa Book Awards
    • Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre
    • Ottawa Catholic School Board
    • Ottawa Children’s Festival
    • Ottawa Community Foundation
    • Ottawa Community Housing
    • Ottawa International Writers Festival
    • Ottawa PC Users Group
    • Ottawa Public Health
    • Ottawa World Skills
    • Ottawa StoryTellers
    • Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
    • Parks Canada
    • Pinecrest Terrace Community House
    • Routhier Community Centre
    • Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
    • Salvation Army
    • Scientists in School
    • Stepstone House
    • Sun Life Financial
    • The Ottawa Mission
    • Timberlake Community
    • United for Literacy
    • United Muslims of Ottawa-Gatineau
    • United States Embassy Ottawa
    • University of Ottawa
    • Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre
    • Youth Haven Shelter
    • Youth Services Bureau
  • Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association

    • Shari Hill in front of Second Editions book store


    was donated to OPL by FOPLA

    Message from FOPLA President, Shari Hill

    Last year, FOPLA continued to support libraries and the communities that depend on them. With the support of our dedicated volunteers, we were able to reopen all 30 of our used bookstores, operate our online store, and hold our monthly Mammoth sales.

    Funds raised from donations, membership fees, and book sales allowed us to donate $160,000 to the Ottawa Public Library—over four times larger than the donation in 2021!

    Some of the ways OPL used the funds to build a stronger Library included:

    • Purchasing furniture such as study carrels
    • Providing outreach to people experiencing homelessness
    • Delivering early literacy programming supplies to adults
    • Coordinating the annual Awesome Authors youth writing contest

    FOPLA has proudly supported Awesome Authors for the last 16 years and compiles the winning works in an anthology called Pot-Pourri.

    Learn more about how to get involved or donate to FOPLA on our website.

  • Statement of Revenue and Expenditures

    At the end of the 2022 fiscal year, OPL closed its financial books with a surplus of $4.622M. More than three-quarters of the surplus is the result of unspent salaries and benefits. Library hours of opening for public services were shortened in the first half of the year and, with the expansion of Sunday hours at select locations in September, began rebounding toward normal levels by the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, significant savings were accumulated in salaries and benefits over the course of the fiscal year. Spending was less than anticipated in all categories with the exception of Library Materials, where expenditures were modestly over the planned budget by $187K. Revenues from fees, rentals, and other sources experienced a slight recovery compared to 2021 as meeting room rental inventory increased and in-person library use and lending increased. Continued support from the Province of Ontario, Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture helped to offset expenditures in 2022. A special thank you to the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library (FOPLA), the Ottawa Community Foundation, and numerous corporate and private donors whose efforts and financial support helped to further offset expenditures.


    Revenues (In Dollars) 2021 2022
    City of Ottawa $47,683,273 $50,173,961
    Library Fees $207,972 $318,626
    Province of Ontario $1,380,328 $1,380,328
    Rental and Other $44,056 $37,897
    Total Revenues $49,315,629 $51,910,812


    Actual Expenditures 2021 2022
    Salaries & Benefits $34,850,813 $36,873,848
    Library Materials $6,085,846 $6,507,932
    Purchased Services $2,186,449 $2,920,558
    Materials & Supplies $1,896,666 $1,884,171
    Program Facility Costs $4,295,855 $3,724,303
    Total Expenditures $49,315,629 $51,910,812
    Year-End compared to Budget Surplus / (Deficit) $5,244,060 $4,622,167