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Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy



This Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy applies to all HPL employees, including but not limited to regular, temporary and contract employees, volunteers, students and interns (collectively referred to as “Employees”).

Core Principles

Core values of the Hamilton Public Library are: Intellectual Freedom, Inclusiveness, Innovation, Respect and Accountability. Each employee occupies a position of trust in dealing with others inside and outside the Library. Whatever the area of activity or degree of responsibility, the Library Board expects each employee to act in a manner which will enhance the Library’s reputation for ethical performance and professionalism in all its dealings.

The Hamilton Public Library is an organization funded primarily by the City of Hamilton and is charged with the management of public funds and programs, and therefore, employees must avoid not only actual conflicts of interest and breaches of trust, but also the appearance of conflicts of interest or breaches of trust.

Library employees often work in spaces where their actions are visible to members of the public. Staff need to ensure that both their actions and the appearance of their actions reflect well on the Hamilton Public Library. Focusing on meeting the needs of members, including making them feel welcome in our spaces is essential to building trust and confidence in HPL.

Employees of the Hamilton Public Library are guided by the following principles:

  1. We understand that we all have a role to play in ensuring the community has confidence and trust in HPL. We will behave with high ethical and customer service standards and be accountable for our actions.
  2. We will be respectful of each other and towards members of the community. We will treat all with dignity, respect and without discrimination.
  3. We will adopt the perspective of advocate for our members, ensuring we understand their needs and assist them to the best of our ability. If we are in doubt that we have not given a full answer or solution we will get appropriate assistance from other staff.
  4. We will promote and foster a safe, secure and healthy work environment and public space for all.
  5. As public servants we will not engage in any conduct or business practice which might bring the reputation of HPL into ill-repute or damage or diminish the reputation of the Library in the eyes of members of the community.
  6. We will avoid actual and potential conflicts of interest or breaches of trust. We will be proactive in disclosing actual or potential conflicts with the appropriate individuals and seek proper advice if we are unsure.
  7. We will abide by the law and adhere to all Hamilton Public Library policies and procedures. In following policy and procedures we will use good judgement and consider the individual needs of members.

Hamilton Public Library Customer Service Commitment to our Members:

At HPL our goal is to deliver an exceptional library experience. Library staff commit to:

  • Provide professional, knowledgeable and best in class customer service.
  • Be engaged with our members and our community. We welcome feedback to continually improve our service delivery.
  • Strive to meet your expectations for timely delivery of materials and provision of relevant services and programs. We are life-long learners and ready to help you with questions or concerns.
  • Provide welcoming and inclusive spaces and be sensitive to your individual needs. We will maintain your confidentiality and privacy.

Conflicts of Interest & Breaches of Trust

Conflicts of interest and breaches of trust may take many forms. It is impossible to list them all. Remember, if you are unsure ask your manager/supervisor. In most cases, prompt and early disclosure of potential conflicts of interests will permit the problem to be resolved.

  • Definition of Family: For the purposes of this policy family is defined as:
    (a) spouse, including but not limited to common-law spouse and same-sex partner
    (b) child, mother, father, sister, brother, grandchild, grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece and nephew
    (c) mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law
    (d) step-mother, step-father, step-sister, step-brother and step-child
    (e) child, mother or father in a relationship where the role of parent has been assumed.
  • Personal Benefit: Employees shall not engage in any behaviour or conduct which may be seen to be an attempt to gain, through their positions as Library employees, or through their knowledge or contact gained as a Library employee, any personal advantage, advancement, favour, influence, benefit, discount or other interest, for themselves, their family or friends.
  • HPL’s Reputation: Employees shall not engage in any activities or business practices which might bring the reputation of the Library into ill-repute or damage or diminish the reputation of the Library in the eyes of members of the community.
  • Protecting Confidentiality: Protecting the confidentiality of members, employees and business partners is a responsibility that all staff need to take very seriously.
    • Employees will not access personal member information (i.e. borrowing records, computer logs...) unless it is required to conduct legitimate library related business.
    • Employees will not disclose personal member information unless it is required to conduct legitimate library related business and/or is permitted under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
    • Employees shall not release a member’s personal record or any other "personal information" about a member without permission from the individual involved. This includes the right to privacy of a specific family member from inquiries made by other family members. Employees need to be knowledgeable of Library policies and procedures around parent’s access to children’s account information, picking up holds of family members and other related circulation functions that provide limited and defined exceptions where disclosure is appropriate.
    • Library staff need to be knowledgeable of Library policies and procedures related to assisting Police in cases of emergency or a criminal investigation.
  • Waiving Fines and Fees:
    • The Hamilton Public is not charging for its materials as of May 2021. Only fines/fees for Interlibrary loan materials will be imposed on HPL Library members as it is set by the loaning library.
  • Respecting Library Property including Library Collections: Library collections, computers, furniture, supplies and equipment are held in trust by HPL for the purpose of fulfilling our mission to the people of Hamilton.
    • Employees will not use library supplies or equipment for personal use, except where permitted by library policy. For example, the Staff Technology Use Policy allows for limited personal use of library computers in certain circumstances.
    • Employees will access library collections for personal use by ensuring they are properly checked out on the integrated library system (ILS) using self-check-out terminals and automated returns sorters.
    • Employees will not use access to the ILS or other systems to extend loan periods, adjust hold queues or fines for themselves or other employees. This restriction does not include staff that are accessing the system for legitimate business purposes, such as, setting up a display or resolving member complaint or system problem.
    • Upon termination of employment, an employee shall promptly deliver to HPL any and all property, technology, data, manuals, notes, records, plans, or other documents, including any such documents stored on any video or software related medium, held by the employee concerning HPL’s services and programs, know-how, developments, and equipment. This includes property made or prepared by the employee and relating in any way to the affairs of HPL. With permission, employees may retain samples of their work if such work is in the public domain. However, this paragraph shall not apply to any original research or to any articles or papers for which the employee is an author or co-author, for which the employee shall retain all intellectual property rights.
  • Doing Business with HPL and Contract Approval: Employees shall not, personally or through companies in which they or their family are involved:
    • Bid on Library contracts for the supply of goods or services
    • Work on Library contracts, for the supply of goods or services, other than in their capacities as Library employees.
    • Approve any contract, agreement or other document on behalf of the Library for any business in which they or their family is personally involved.
  • Hiring and Supervision of Employees: Employees shall not be involved in any decision to hire or engage their family members for any employment with the Library whether temporary, full-time, part-time, casual or seasonal.
    • Employees shall not influence or attempt to influence any decision relating to the hiring of family members.
    • Employees shall not permit themselves to be placed in supervision over another Library employee who is a family member without disclosing the nature of the relationship to the appropriate supervisor.
  • Gifts and Benefits: Employees shall not accept any gift, benefit, money, discount, favour or other assistance from any business which has a contract with the Library Board to supply goods or services, unless the gift, benefit, money, discount, favour, or assistance is one which, due to the nature of the business, is available to the general public.
    • No employees shall accept any gifts, hospitality, and invitations to special events which exceed $100 in value.
    • Nominal gifts or hospitality below $25 may be accepted under appropriate conditions.
    • Gifts or hospitality ranging from $25 to $100 may be accepted under appropriate conditions as long as they are documented and disclosed. Employees will disclose the receipt of such gifts to the Chief Librarian and Director of Finance and Facilities. The Chief Librarian will disclose to the Library Board Chair.
    • Appropriate conditions for this policy is defined as: it is in the context of a business meeting or interaction, or in the context of a recognized charitable event; and it is an infrequent occurrence; and it legitimately serves a business purpose; and it is appropriate to the business responsibilities of the individual employee; and the gift or hospitality is not an attempt to seek special favours or advantages from the employee or HPL.
  • Speaking Fees and Publications: No employee shall charge or knowingly accept a fee for taking part in a public speaking engagement such as a public radio/television broadcast, website broadcast or conference to which he or she was invited as a direct result of his or her position as an employee. No employee shall charge or knowingly accept a fee for writing or publishing articles or books in any print or online publications, if such articles or books directly relates to the employee’s position at HPL or uses insider information about HPL. The same restrictions apply for the creation of audio, video and other media types. The rules specified in the Gifts and Benefits section apply to Speaking Fees and Publications, however, some additional exceptions apply:
    • Accepting free admission from the seminar or conference organizers for the balance of the seminar or conference is not a violation of this Policy.
    • Any fee that is received for work done during normal working hours, or at any time where the employee is representing the Library, shall be turned over to the Library, unless the value of the fee does not exceed expenses (incurred for attending the event) which are not reimbursed by the Library.
    • Employees may charge or accept a fee for speaking engagements during time off work (e.g. vacation time) providing such employees are not representing or purporting to represent the Library.
  • Outside Employment: Employees shall not take outside employment, including self-employment, if such employment: causes a real or apparent conflict of interest; or is performed in such a way as to appear to be an official act of or to represent HPL; or interferes with regular duties in any way, or involves the use of Library premises, resources or equipment including but not limited to Library e-mail, telephones, cell phones, or supplies.
    • Where it appears that a conflict of interest might arise in accepting outside employment, employees must notify their supervisor in writing of the nature of such outside employment prior and receive written permission prior to the acceptance of such employment.
  • Community Board Activity: Employees are encouraged to volunteer in the community on their personal time and this may include serving on local boards or agencies; however, no employee shall accept an appointment to the Board of a community agency or association that deals with matters related to the activities of HPL, without the written permission of the Chief Librarian or designate. Written permission of the Chief Librarian or designate is not required if the employee is appointed to the Board of the agency or association by HPL to represent HPL’s interests.
    • Any Library employee serving on a community board shall take all reasonable actions to avoid any real conflict or apparent conflict between Board activity and HPL’s interests. Where a real or apparent conflict exists, the employee shall declare the conflict and shall not take part in, or be present for, any Board discussion or decision about the issue raising the conflict of interest. If the conflict of interest is significant, the employee shall resign from the board.
  • Compliance with Laws and Regulations: Employees shall not, during the course of the conduct of their employment duties, knowingly violate, or permit the violation of, or fail to report the violation of, any federal or provincial statute or regulation. Staff will adhere to all policies of the Hamilton Public Library. Library procedures exist to provide guidance to staff in circumstances where potential crimes need to be reported to the Police.
  • Software Piracy: HPL forbids software piracy, defined as using any unlicensed copy of a software package that has not been purchased for Library purposes. It includes taking a copy of a licensed software package for one’s own use or passing a copy on to another person for their use (See the Staff Technology Use Policy.)
  • Public Duty: Some positions in the organization are more subject than others to conflicts of interest. Managers, Directors and employees who give professional advice or assistance, or participate in enforcement and/or inspection activities, shall take every reasonable action not to place themselves in conflict of interest situations, or exhibit behaviour or commit acts which could bring disrepute to HPL or undermine HPL’s reputation.
    • Since public criticism can also undermine HPL’s reputation, employees are expected to refrain from public criticism of HPL or of other Library employees through all venues including social networking. This does not remove employees’ rights as citizens to comment generally on matters of public interest, but in exercising this right, Library employees must not identify themselves as such or purport to be speaking on behalf of the HPL.


Employees are reminded of the importance of disclosure. In most cases, prompt and early disclosure of potential conflicts of interests will permit the problem to be resolved.

By signing the Employee Code of Conduct & Conflict of Interest Policy, employees acknowledge and accept responsibility to act and behave in a manner that is consistent with the expectations prescribed in this Policy. Employees collectively benefit from an overall atmosphere of high ethical conduct that flows from this commitment. Employees who are found to be in a conflict of interest or breach of trust, or who fail to disclose circumstances with the potential for a conflict of interest or breach of trust will be dealt with seriously and disciplinary action up to and including termination will be taken.

References & Links

Publish Date

May 2019