Library Programming Policy


The purpose of this policy is to provide staff with the necessary guidelines to assist them in the development of library programs and to inform the public about the principles and criteria by which programs are selected.


Free access to information and ideas is a democratic right of every citizen. Public libraries ensure this right by providing the public with opportunities to participate fully in a changing society through access to a wide range of humanity's thoughts, ideas, information and expressions of the creative imagination.

Library Programming Statement

Programming is an integral part of the service provided by the Halifax Public Libraries and is key to the achievement of the library's commitment to its vision.

The library provides free access to all materials and programs to all customers regardless of age, race, religion, familial belief, gender or political affiliation.

The Library upholds the principle of intellectual freedom and supports the rights of individuals to read, speak, view and exchange differing points of view on any subject. To accomplish this, the library may present controversial programs in order to ensure public access to all sides of an issue. Programs are developed to respond to emerging community interests as well as to sustain demonstrated interests and demand.

Programs complement other library services by providing an opportunity to highlight collections, promote services and share knowledge and expertise. They are a strong mechanism for outreach and promotion which allow the library to forge partnerships with a wide variety of groups and individuals and attract both regular and new users of all ages and backgrounds. Programs raise the library's profile in the community and have a positive impact on library use.

Benefits of Programming

Library programs benefit the community by:

  • being responsive to current interests
  • serving as a forum for idea sharing, information gathering and education
  • promoting cultural awareness
  • developing information literacy
  • offering training and assistance with new technologies
  • fostering a love of reading and learning
  • providing early literacy experiences to young children
  • providing a safe, welcoming environment for meeting with others
  • community awareness / development

Program Development

Programs are developed in accordance with the Halifax Public Libraries Programming Model which sets out the following framework:

Programs offered will:

  • be clearly linked to regional/branch service priorities, marketing objectives and will follow program modules
  • consistently draw benchmarked numbers of target audiences as defined in modules
  • offer a balance between large scale and smaller group program formats
  • will usually focus on one or several of the following areas:
    • literature
    • cultural heritage
    • social awareness
    • health and well-being
    • information technology
    • literacy
    • high interest topics related to library collection

To determine community needs and interests, the library regularly evaluates community response to and suggestions for its programs. It also periodically reviews community profiles and uses various mechanisms to get community input to assist in setting programming priorities and plans.

Program Selection Criteria

The following criteria are considered when selecting programs, although a program need not meet all criteria to be acceptable:

  • Provides opportunity to widen horizons, stimulate imagination and reflection, and enlarge experiences
  • Meets the needs and interests of the community
  • Aligned to current service priorities and promotions plans
  • Meets popular demand, both existing and anticipated
  • Focuses on Canadian content
  • Presents many sides of controversial issues, where possible
  • Balances special group interests with general demand
  • Does not promote a specific commercial enterprise
  • Represents challenging, though extreme or minority, points of view in order to provide insight into human and social conditions
  • Relates to a library collection
  • Within operational and budgetary limitations.

Program Delivery

Programs will be presented by either staff trained in the programming topic or by experts from the community including:

  • authors
  • performers
  • staff experts from a community partnership
  • volunteer presenters with recognized credentials relating to the programming topic

All programs are designed with measurable outcomes and are evaluated regularly based on these outcomes.

Suggestions for Programs

The public are encouraged to suggest topics for future programming. These suggestions will be considered in light of the programming criteria and library resources. Not all suggestions will be used.

Complete and save a program suggestion form, and email it along with any supporting documents (up to 4 files) to