Policy Purpose and Scope
This policy provides guidance for Hamilton Public Library (HPL) staff and the Library Board in regards to advocacy and participation in elections and political parties.
Public Libraries in Ontario, like HPL, are governed by the Public Libraries Act which establishes that we are governed by independent boards. At HPL a core value is intellectual freedom and our role is to facilitate the expression of a wide range of ideas. Public libraries also play an important role in encouraging democratic participation and awareness. In fulfilling these roles, HPL needs to ensure we preserve the public’s trust in us as an independent organization by being careful to avoid the perception of bias or partisanship.
Promoting Democratic Awareness and Participation
The Library Board encourages staff to support non-partisan activities that encourage political participation and voter awareness. Approved activities include things like the following:
- Using library space to serve as polling stations
- Using library space for non-partisan voter registration tables
- Using library space to host all candidates meetings
- Using library space to host programs and discussions about relevant current issues
Approval for using the library space or website for non-partisan actives requires approval of the Chief Librarian or designate.
Maintaining Public Trust and Independence
The Library Board requires staff to refrain from activities that could erode our position of trust and independence. The Library will not support, endorse, or advocate the viewpoints or beliefs of any one candidate, political party, partisan organization or group. The following activities are not permitted:
- The posting or distribution of partisan election or campaign material in or around library facilities or on the website
- Renting library space for partisan events, election or campaign activities
- While at work staff will not wear anything that promotes a specific candidate or party. They will not post, distribute or promote any election candidate or party while on library property