May 19, 2022

Report and Video Recording: “Canadian Urban Institute Examines Role of Libraries in Light of COVID-19”

From Urban Toronto:

Last week [April 23, 2020], the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) hosted a five-panelist webinar exploring the current role of public libraries, and how that could evolve in a post-COVID-19 environment. The five panelists offered perspectives from across the country. Maureen Sawa, CEO of the Greater Victoria Public Library, has noticed that as libraries switch to virtual services,”people are missing their physical branches, people are missing their books.” The Canadian Urban Libraries Council has developed a think tank to discuss what libraries can do to reintroduce services, “but we know things are not going to be the same.”


Paul Takala, CEO and Chief Librarian of the Hamilton Public Library, says previous investments in technology have helped Hamilton’s library system weather the storm. Online services are being ramped up, and users are being contacted by librarians to help them make the digital shift easier. Echoing comments made in an earlier Canadian Urban Institute webinar exploring municipal responses to COVID-19 and climate change, Takala says it’s crucial that the higher levels of government provide serious financial relief to cities. “We can’t continue to put critical services on the backs of local taxpayers, there isn’t the capacity for that.” He hopes COVID-19 will advance the conversation about the need to invest more in local government.

Read the Complete Event Summary

Watch a Video Recording of the Webinar

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.