Accreditation : ISO 9001 for Libraries

Have you seen the signs announcing that a company is ISO 9001 registered? Do you know what that means?

According to Wikipedia: The ISO 9000 family of standards is related to quality management systems and designed to help organizations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to the product. 

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In 2014, as part of our 130th anniversary – more on that later – St. Thomas Public Library is seeking provincial accreditation – just like ISO 9001 for libraries. Representatives from libraries in Ontario assisted in the definition of required standards for all public libraries, and these standards – Ontario Public Library Guidelines, or OPLG – are now in their sixth edition. There are 160 guidelines that should be met. Some are mandatory, and of the others, a library must achieve more than 80% to be successfully accredited.

Some of the standards are required policies, some dictate that libraries must provide a certain level of service, and some govern Board operation. St. Thomas Public Library will not have any concerns about meeting the majority of the standards. Here are some samples:

1.3.6    Report to the public – The Board regularly reports to the community on the library’s progress in fulfilling its plans, e.g. by distributing an annual report to Council and the community.

1.4.2    Financial records – The board ensures accurate records of the library’s finances are maintained in the fashion outlined by applicable legislation or advised accounting practices.

2.6.1    Service to housebound or institutionalized people – The library provides library materials on an organized and regular basis to residents of the community who are unable to travel to the library, e.g. the housebound, residents of institutions such as nursing homes.

2.9.1    Publicity – Information about library programs, services, rules and hours is made easily available to community residents in print and on the library’s web site, in the appropriate language, e.g. through the provision of pamphlets, brochures, linkages from other web sites, and regular articles or advertisements in the local media.

4.4.1    Readers’ advisory service – The library staff provides guidance and assistance to library users as to which library materials will most suit their needs, e.g. by identifying the author of books featuring a certain character; directing library users to materials in a  particular genre, or to biographies about a certain person.

There are some standards where we have concerns that we may not meet expectations, such as:

3.3.5    Interior lighting – Lighting levels are adequate in all areas, e.g. in book stack areas, general reading and staff areas, computer stations, reading tables and carrels.

We are looking forward to the visit from a team of outside auditors reviewing all our processes and services at the end of November.

Other nearby successfully accredited libraries include Middlesex and Brant Counties, St Mary’s, Perth & District, Brockville, Barrie and Fort Erie.

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