The Fort Frances Public Library has met 100 percent of the Ontario Public Library Guidelines and has been recommended for accreditation.
While libraries only need 90 percent to pass, the local facility has gone above and beyond to meet all of the guidelines in 166 separate categories.
“It means we offer a high calibre of public library service, so we adhere to all of these best practices, so we're accountable, and we're ensuring that we are in line with what it means to be the best kind of library,” explained local CEO Caroline Goulding.
“It makes sure that we're accountable for public spending, it makes sure that we're accountable to our community and it's also a really good opportunity for reflection.”
As well, accreditation means there is consistency in service, superior future planning, and a clear direction for future development.
Some of the requirements to become accredited include developing plans for maintenance, programming, technology, and collection development.
Other requirements involve analyzing the libraries goals as well as looking at spending to prevent the library from operating in “crisis mode,” Goulding noted.
Site-specific things include having a library board that operates in accordance with the Library Act, having a strategic plan in place, and being easily accessible via phone and email.
The work to get the library accredited started before Goulding accepted her job at the Fort Frances Public Library nearly three years ago and it has been one of her top priories ever since.
“It was one thing that the [Library] Board really wanted to have happen, even back when I was first hired,” she noted.
“It's a real feather in the cap for the library and I think the community should feel a lot of pride that they have an accredited public library.”
“It means that they can trust that things are operating according to best practices and the highest level of service,” Goulding added.
During the town council meeting on Monday evenin, Coun. Andrew Hallikas congratulated the local library for the milestone.
“Accreditation is the gold standard for libraries in Ontario, it demonstrates that a public library is using public money effectively and that the library is recognized by fellow libraries as a leader in the field,” he said.
“We're going to be joining only a few libraries in Northern Ontario that are accredited.”
Coun. Hallikas said the process of getting accredited was made possible through the combined efforts of the library's CEO, staff, board and Ontario Library Services North.
To remain accredited the library must be inspected every five years and Goulding, who will be leaving her position as library CEO this Friday, said it feels good to leave Fort Frances knowing she was directly involved in the library's accreditation.
“It's really nice knowing that this is something that I'm leaving done, so the next CEO doesn't have to worry for five years,” she explained.
The plans and documents done up for accreditation will also help the new library CEO have a smoother transition to the position.
“So you're not leaving the new person a blank slate, you are leaving them some understanding of these are the decisions we've been making, this is why we've been making them, this is our framework," Goulding noted. "It's less of a jarring transition.”
The official accreditation certificate will be given to the Fort Frances Public Library at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference in January, after receiving accreditation this afternoon from the Ontario Public Library Guidelines Council.
Goulding is sad to leave Fort Frances for her new position as executive director of Patricia Area Community Endeavours in Dryden and because of her incredible level of involvement in local groups and committees she will be missed by many.
“It's really bitter-sweet for me," she said. "I love this community and I love this library a lot . . . it's so hard to go right now, but at the same time, I'm confident the library is going to be left in good hands.”
“I don't who they're hiring yet but I know the staff that we've got here are second to none and it's been a great experience for me, I've really come to love the community,” Goulding added.
During Monday night's council meeting, Mayor Caul said she will miss Goulding dearly.
“I'm so impressed with that young lady and what she has brought to Fort Frances, she has done a stellar job of looking after our library and bringing it more into the future all the time,” she enthused.
“She's got great connections and she's got great skills as far as finding information that needs to be found, talking to people, and being part of the community.”
Mayor Caul said in 2016 when Goulding was new to town, she stepped right up and joined several committees where she quickly excelled, through her leadership skills.
“I feel really badly that we're losing her, she's such a wonderful young lady and she will be very hard to replace, but I sure wish her well in her new job in Dryden,” she remarked.
Coun. Hallikas, who is also a library board member said they are currently in the process of interviewing applicants for the vacant CEO and hope to find someone for replacement in the near future.
Meanwhile, long-time library employee Andrea Avis is retiring and a replacement has been found her position.