Working With Us Policy


To provide Staff, community members and partners guidance on the appropriate use of library spaces and to articulate the HPL decision-making processes that govern the implementation of the policy. The policy also provides an overall framework for the Hamilton Public Library to manage:

• Learning and social inclusion program development
• Existing and new partnerships 
• Room rentals

The goal is to ensure HPL uses its spaces to maximize impact and grow strong community partnerships that are focused on advancing Library, City and community priorities. This policy combines and supersedes the following policies: Rules and Conditions Regarding Booking, Meeting Room, Partnership and Program Development policies. The Hamilton  Public Library will ensure our policies and procedures are consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms1 (Charter) and with other applicable legislation, including the Ontario Human Rights Code2 (Code). 


  • Co-Planned Programs are activities that take place in HPL spaces that are offered by Library partners. Generally, HPL provides its space for free and the partner offers a learning activity for free. The partner can brand the program, but they work with HPL to co-promote the program and include relevant library resources, when appropriate.
  • Learning Program is defined as a coordinated activity or event with a specific purpose, such as developing reading skills, learning to utilize technology skills, understand something or gain a skill, or sharing knowledge and expertise.
  • Library Managed – An event or program that is offered by HPL Staff.
  • Library Partner – A community group or organization whose mission aligns with HPL’s and is listed as active in the Library’s “Partnership List”. Generally, HPL partners with not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions and governmental entities. HPL also partners with for-profit organizations in special circumstances.
  • Managers – Each branch or department has a Manager who oversees their location within their approved mandate. Library Management and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) are listed on the Library website3.
  • Meeting Space – A part of a library building that can be used to hold special events. (i.e. Central Living Room, 4th Floor Zones) also referenced in the document as Library rooms.
  • Partnership is defined as a mutually beneficial collaboration between the Library and an external organization(s). Partner contributions provide support for and/or promote activities, services, events and programs to the public in ways that are mutually beneficial. (See Section 9-Partnership Levels)
  • Program Room – A room at the Library that is mainly used for programs and meetings.
  • Senior Leadership Team (SLT) – Comprised of the Chief Librarian/CEO and Library Directors.


HPL programs advance learning, literacy, the love of reading and create opportunities to reduce social isolation and promote mutual understanding. Here are some key things to understand how we develop our programs:

1. Preference for Co-Planned Programs: HPL seeks aligned organizations serving Hamilton to provide more free learning opportunities in our spaces. We are seeking to work with organizations to create mutual benefits and share a reciprocal approach and commitment.

2. Challenging Thinking: Sometimes advancing our understanding can be uncomfortable. The Library may present programs that some individuals find controversial. Holding a program does not indicate an endorsement of its contents by the Hamilton Public Library, but rather is an affirmation of the principle of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Canadian Federation of Library Associations Statement on Intellectual Freedom.

3. Covering Gaps in Community Needs: Our programming looks to fill in gaps that exist in our community. When those gaps are addressed elsewhere, we focus on new needs. To assess if a program is filling a need, HPL looks to multiple points of information to evaluate alignment with our mission. These include evidence of attendance and participation in existing programs, when reliable research or information indicates a gap in general public knowledge or awareness of an issue that impacts our health, mutual understanding, security or prosperity. We also consider recommendations from residents and other organizations.

4. Programs of Focus:

  • Supporting literacy for all, promoting early literacy and school readiness, and the love of reading. Helping families grow the next generation of readers.
  • Supporting people in their life-long learning journeys and enhancing academic success.
  • Supporting digital inclusion; knowledge and access to technology skills needed to successfully participate in work and online forums in responsible ways that protect personal privacy and reduce personal risk.
  • Supporting work force development, including locating, applying and successfully interviewing for jobs. Helping entrepreneurs find paths to success.
  • Strengthening community cohesion bringing people together to increase understanding of our diverse histories, heritages, culture and experiences in ways that bring us together.
  • Provide information and skills that empower people to improve their own health, wellness, financial security, sense of self and social belonging.
  • Enhance access to arts, music & culture. Support people to find and improve artistic forms of expression.
  • Support civic engagement and participation.
  • Provide information about education, health, cultural, recreational and social services opportunities that address the people’s needs.
  • Supporting seniors aging successfully. We are inspired by creative aging4 .

5. Target Age Groups: HPL programs serve Hamiltonians of all ages and backgrounds. The Library works to fulfill the City of Hamilton’s mandate: to be the best place to raise a child and age successfully. We focus on developing early literacy skills, supporting school readiness, children, teens, families, adults of all ages and we have an increasing focus on seniors’ programs. HPL strives to create spaces and programs that are family friendly and create inter-generational experiences. In some cases, the Library may set age or other guidelines for participation in a program, such as a children’s program, when the program is designed and best suited for specific audience(s).

6. Liability Insurance is required for all programs taking place in Library premises and is purchased by the Library prior to the date of the activity/event. Certain activities require additional insurance. If that is required, we will discuss and normally require the organizers to provide that insurance and proof in advance (HPL and City of Hamilton must be named on the certificate).

7. Pre-registration: Where possible we offer programs that do not require pre-registration; this is generally our preference since it can create a barrier to participation and creates administrative overhead. We recognize in some circumstances pre-registration is required. HPL’s event management system has a registration function which should be used. If partners prefer to handle registration themselves this should be pre-negotiated.


We understand that the human experience creates many different understandings and perspectives. As a public library our programming is aimed at creating constructive dialogue and learning that advances people and brings them together. We strive to create an environment where we learn from each other. HPL’s Strategic Plan, our Diversity and Inclusion Policy and our Intellectual Freedom Policy provide guidance regarding the services and activities that happen in our spaces.

HPL’s Mission is Freedom to Discover. The public library approach to learning is based on helping people learn things that ignite this imagination and inspire them. Put another way: “5 ”

Three (3) key frameworks shape the development of our learning program:

  1. 4 pillars of education. Know, do, live together, be.Our life-long learning model is informed by
    UNESCO’s Four Pillars of Education:
    - Learning to Know
    - Learning to Do
    - Learning to Be and
    - Learning to Live Together.
  2. We strive to work with partners that share our broad goals, focusing on working together to have positive impacts that are meaningful and sustainable. We are committed to Collective Impact and working with others that are likewise committed.
  3. We believe in the need for ongoing evaluation and improvement. We strive to be as effective as we can, ensuring we have meaningful impacts on people’s lives.


HPL partnership continuum. 1, extend and enhance HPL services and program goals in sustainable ways. 2, support the city and broad based initiatives that advance our economic, social and cultural richness. 3, Enhance coordination and reduce overlap.The Hamilton Public Library is committed to working with aligned individuals and organizations to create a better future by working together. There are three (3) core reasons we engage in partnerships:

  1. Extend and enhance HPL services and program goals in sustainable ways.
  2. Support the city and broad-based initiatives that advance our economic, social and cultural richness.
  3. Enhance coordination and reduce overlap in effort between agencies.


The Library’s public space is for the use and enjoyment of all members of the public. Public space is provided for individuals and small groups to read, study, use library collections, access technology and Wifi consistent with our Member Service Commitment.

1. Spaces are Community Assets: The Library’s spaces are community assets that are utilized to advance individuals and the communities we serve in ways consistent with HPL’s mission, values and strategic priorities.

2. Manager Authorization for Other Uses: Use of the facilities for other purposes such as book clubs, games, crafts or larger group activities needs to be authorized by the Manager and needs to be done in ways that do not impede others using the space.

3. Approvals are Not Open Ended: Library operational needs and strategic priorities change over time. Past approval for something should not be assumed to be an ongoing commitment from HPL.

  • Library staff are required to regularly review priorities. Commitments are reviewed annually.
  • Priority of space is given to groups that work in collaboration and are in line with our policies.
  • When arrangements are required to change, the Library is committed to giving advance notice.

4. Resolving Challenges: Our goal is to resolve challenges in a collaborative way, however, individuals and groups that do not work cooperatively with Staff and the local Manager will lose privileges. If a challenge arises that cannot be resolved locally, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) will arbitrate and decide on the course of action. SLT will base decisions on:

  • The perspectives from both parties and relevant written documentation, including email.
  • Has the party met past commitments?
  • Has the party worked within agreed to parameters?
  • Has the party adhered to this policy and used appropriate channels for communication?
  • What are the impacts on operations and other uses?
  • Has enough notice been given for the change?

In special circumstances the appeal may be referred to the Hamilton Public Library Board. The Library Board would assess whether the Chief Librarian/CEO and SLT followed Library Board policy in making their determination. If they determine that Staff did follow the policy, then the Board would confirm the decision. They may also opt for the policy to be reviewed and updated.

5. Transparency: The Library will publish the name of the organization or group offering an authorized program or room booking in our spaces.

6. Non-endorsement by HPL: The use of library space by a group or organization does not constitute the Library Board’s endorsement of the group’s policies or beliefs, any particular program, position or purpose of any person or organization.

  • Co-Planned programs will be promoted by HPL recognizing the hosting partner.
  • Where an outside group is using library space, promotional and other materials should not imply HPL sponsorship of the event unless it is agreed in advance.


The following is the order of priority for use of the program rooms and meeting spaces.

HPL partnership priorities. 1, Library managed or co-planned activities. 2, Free community learning programs. 3, HPL partners and City Counsillors free allocations*. 4, Paid room rentals

  1. Library managed or co-planned activities.
  2. Free community learning programs
  3. HPL partners and City Counsillors free allocations*
  4. Paid room and space rentals
  • At some locations the community demand outstrips operational capacity and alternate space suggestions may be suggested in the community by Library staff. 2 HPL’s priority for space use is library managed or co-planned activities. Then we look for opportunities for aligned partners to provide free learning opportunities in our spaces. Our third and fourth priorities are providing the space for free to eligible groups and then paid room and space rental respectively.
  • Free Allocations*: Local partners are eligible for up to four (4) free bookings each year. City of Hamilton Councillors are eligible for two (2) free bookings per month for public meetings or groups in which the Councillor is a member and a regular attendee.
  •  Restore Room - Program rooms and meeting spaces have standard set-ups that are posted in the rooms/spaces. Groups are expected to restore rooms and spaces to the standard set-up and leave them clean and in good order. Special set-up is normally restricted to paid rentals and must be agreed to in advance subject to the Library’s ability to accommodate the request. Failure to comply will result in losing room booking privileges.
  • Follow the Proper Channels – HPL has online systems to manage programs and room bookings. Staff can assist with the process if necessary. 


HPL encourages partners and potential partners to work with us on co-planned programs. For those who want to work with us, we can offer: 

  • Access to attractive, vibrant spaces with a broad, active membership base
  • A strong network of promotion including online and print
  • A robust Information Technology Infrastructure
  • A wide range of staff expertise and knowledge
  • Access to research materials both in print and digital formats
  • Where appropriate, HPL Staff can provide programs for partner organizations in their spaces

In return for HPL provided access to spaces and promotion, we are looking for partners to co-develop programs that include: 

  1. Advanced planning that enables both organizations to efficiently use their resources to organize and promote activities.
  2. Shared program planning consistent with the agreed mandate, including promoting awareness of relevant free resources available at HPL or through other community agencies.
  3. Shared evaluation plan that ensures both organizations can effectively track agreed to measures and assessing impact where practical.


The following criteria govern how HPL approaches partnerships and related activities. Not all criteria will apply in every case, however, they will be used to inform decision making. Priority will be given to organizations and initiatives that meet multiple criteria from the following list:

  1. Aligns with HPL core organizational values (Intellectual Freedom, Inclusiveness, Innovation, Respect and Accountability) and/or shares common goals or objectives.
  2. Is committed to looking for mutual benefit and a reciprocal approach to levels of commitment.
  3. Demonstrated commitment to collaboration and shared planning.
  4. Demonstrated commitment to ongoing evaluation and continuous improvement.
  5. Demonstrated commitment to collective impact and long-term strategies.
  6. In some cases, we are looking for partners to provide an activity/service at multiple locations.


Our partnership goals have a few objectives that we are striving to reconcile in our approach:

  1. HPL has multiple locations and we want to empower Library Staff to work with local groups to enhance community collaboration between HPL and others working towards creating a better future for all members of their communities.
  2. As a publicly funded organization we need to ensure we are accountable to our funders to ensure we are using our resources effectively to have the most positive impact on the individuals and communities we serve.
  3. To address this, we are implementing processes and systems to support broad collaboration with the community while also aligning our resource commitments to those partnering with us to ensure we are working toward shared goals.Partnership levels.1, local groups aligned with HPL goals. Branch manager approval level. Limited access to free bookings. 2, collaborative groups and organizations working with HPL, SLT approval level. Mutual commitments. 3, strategic. Groups and org


Most programs offered by the Library or in partnership with others are free to attend. This rule also applies to space rentals. We have this approach because charging for events creates a participation barrier that excludes some community members. We also need to be mindful of the administrative costs associated with collecting a registration or entry fee. Our focus is using our spaces to be informative learning opportunities and social inclusion opportunities, not to be used as a vehicle for commercial ventures.

The Library does consider special circumstances where we may allow something that we do not generally do. In these cases, advanced written authorization from the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) is required for the event, program or rental to proceed.

  1. Charging Entry Fees in our Spaces - In some circumstances HPL allows for events to charge an entry fee. When this is approved, we look to negotiate mitigating steps to offset obstacles created by charging a fee. SLT considers the following when approving charging for events:
    • The partner has already offered free co-planned programs with HPL in our spaces.
    • The price is reasonable and less than what might be charged at other venues. Focuses on covering costs, not making a large profit.
    • Makes available a limited number of free tickets for free distribution through a lottery.

The same criteria may be applied when selling and fundraising is considered. 

  1.  Closed Meetings – If a group wants to restrict access to a meeting, whether a free learning program, group meeting or space rental we require an explanation that is reasonable and does not violate HPL policies or any applicable laws. HPL will not allow events or meetings where attendance is limited on Code-protected grounds, except where the prospective group satisfies HPL that such limitations are consistent with the ameliorative provisions of the Code and/or Charter. We reserve the right to have HPL Staff observe any closed meeting to ensure it is consistent with its intended purpose and does not violate our policies or applicable laws.
  2. Political Gatherings – These are governed by our Advocacy and Political Participation PolicySpecial cases SLT approval required. Outside normal hours, press conferences, charging entry fees, outside art exhibits, serving alcohol, selling or fund raising.
  3. Art Exhibits – if they are not co-managed by HPL see our Displays and Exhibits Policy
  4. Alcohol Consumption at programs/events is considered on an individual basis. An appropriate permit along with Smart Serve servers is required. A copy of the permit/license must be provided in advance of the event. Game Day insurance of $5 million in coverage is required. 
  5. Last Minute Booking: We normally plan uses of our spaces in advance to use our promotion channels to advance public awareness of activities. To also be responsive to current needs and to remain effective and accountable to our funding partners we strive to work one (1) quarter in advance.


The following restrictions exist on the use of Library spaces:

  1. Illegal Activity: HPL will not knowingly permit any individual or group to use its facilities in contravention of Canadian or Ontario laws, including local Bylaws.
  2. Discrimination: HPL will not allow events or meetings where attendance is limited on Code-protected grounds, except where the prospective group satisfies HPL that such limitations are consistent with the ameliorative provisions of the Code and/or Charter. We will not approve of events that are intended to advocate actions that contravene Canadian or Ontario laws.Activities not allowed are illegal activity, discrimination, gambling, sales promotion, private socials, partisan politics.
  3. Sales Promotion: Events promoting the purchase of specific brands/products/service are not allowed. General consumer education from knowledgeable professionals are not included in this category. 
  4. Also prohibited: private social gatherings and gambling.


The following are the basic rules and expectations about space usage and bookings:

  1. Respect the Space, People and Rules: HPL wants to work with others to bring positive experiences to people. Allowing other groups to use our space creates demands on our resources. To manage this, we need to ensure that we agree in advance on what is expected, commitments are honoured, people work within our planning cycles and are respectful to Staff and the public.
    • Attendance must not exceed the posted room capacities allowed.
  2. Restore Room/Space Condition: Program rooms and meeting spaces have standard set-ups that are posted in the rooms/space. Groups are expected to restore rooms and spaces to the standard set-up and leave them clean and in good order. Special set-up is normally restricted to paid rentals and must be agreed to in advance subject to the Library’s ability to accommodate the request.
  3. Equipment: Availability of equipment is specific to the room or space and on a case by case basis. Arrangements for equipment need to be made in advance.
  4. Use Online System: Whether proposing a co-planned program, renting space, or requesting a free booking, everyone is encouraged to use the HPL’s online system to initiate the process. To coordinate activities across our 23 locations and two bookmobiles, library Staff can assist with this if needed. 
    • To book a room rental, an active HPL Library Card is required. To be eligible for free partner bookings a Partner/Community Library Card is required. This requirement exists so we can use our online Event Calendar System.
  5. Observation: To ensure meetings do not violate Library policies, HPL reserves the right to observe in person any meeting or event held in its facilities.
  6. Public Performance Rights: Viewing of films must have appropriate Public Performance Rights in place. Films may be shown if a license has been purchased by the organizer from a rights holder such as Audio Cine Film or Criterion Pictures. Proof of the purchased film licence must be provided in advance of the booking.
  7. Charges and Cancellations: Payment is due at the time of booking confirmation. Two (2) weeks’ (10 business days) written notice is required to cancel a room booking. A full refund will be provided if appropriate notice is given. Charges may include fees for room restoration and cleaning.
  8. Declining Room Bookings: The Library reserves the right to decline bookings that could negatively impact library operations or stress library resources. The Library reserves the right to cancel bookings when this policy is violated or in special circumstances. If HPL cancels an event that involves a room rental, a full refund will be issued by HPL.
  9. Violations of Policy: Violation of this policy could lead to cancellation of events and a future prohibition on room or space bookings. Groups will be held financially responsible for any damage done.


All library spaces and room rentals for non-partners is suspended until end of 2024.

Additional Room Rental Rules

Booking the rooms does not include technical support for any technology or audio/visual equipment unless previously arranged and paid for at the time of booking.

Rooms/space capacity is capped by fire regulations and based on theatre style layout.

Fees are based on four-hour blocks and this block includes half-hour for set up and half-hour for reset. Members can rent multiple blocks if available.

Central Library

Hamilton Room - 170-person capacity; 4hrs: $400

Wentworth Room and 2nd Floor Program Room - 40-person capacity; 4hrs: $150

4th floor Program Room - 15-person capacity; 4hrs: $100

Circuit 4.0 - individual zones on the 4th floor - 50-person capacity; 4hrs: $150

Circuit 4.0 all zones on the 4th floor - 350-person capacity; 4hrs: $700

Board Room on the 5th floor - 30-person capacity; 4hrs: $450

Sherwood Branch

Rooms A – B - 100-person capacity; 4hrs: $150

Red Hill Branch

Program Room - 50-person capacity; 4hrs: $150

Westdale Branch

Program Room - 50-person capacity; 4hrs: $150

Valley Park Branch

Room A - 59-person capacity; 4hrs: $150

Room B - 59-person capacity; 4hrs: $150

Room A/B - 118-person capacity; 4hrs: $300

Room and Rentable Spaces Additional Fees

Groups are expected to restore rooms and spaces to the standard set-up and leave them clean and in good order. Members may be billed for added services requested at the time of booking or for the cost of restoring the rooms/spaces and equipment to its original form as needed.

Security: $50 per hour, per guard. minimum four hours

Technology Support: $50 per hour minimum four hours

Equipment Rental (where available): technology and audio/visual items: $25 per item

Room layout set-up and reset: $500
Reset room layout: $250

Cleaning: $50 per hour, minimum four hours

Loss or damage: members will be billed the cost of replacing or repairing lost or damaged equipment or facilities including cables, microphones, piano, furniture, etc.

Other branch rentable spaces will be added in the future using above rates on



This policy will be reviewed annually by the full Management of the Library and every four years at a minimum of the Library Board.


April 2023