Library scores at the head of the class

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

In a year full of “firsts”, the County of Prince Edward Public Library experienced yet another.

For the first time, the library underwent a virtual audit. Every five years, the library undergoes the audit process for voluntary accreditation through the Southern Ontario Library Service. This traditionally involves auditors visiting each branch of the library in person, as well as reading through the library’s policies and procedures.

This year, librarians at each of the library’s six branches toured the auditors through the branches by video chat.

“The accreditation process is a great opportunity for us to walk around our buildings and look closely at each of the details that might affect a patron’s experience”, explained Ameliasburgh & Consecon Branch librarian Gisa Iannaci.

In evaluating the branches, auditors review everything from accessibility to directional signs to interior and exterior lighting levels. No stone is left unturned as the auditors work through a detailed checklist and compare every detail to best practices. This year, the County of Prince Edward Public Library received a score of 98 per cent .

“The auditors were very complimentary of each of the branches”, explained CEO Barbara Sweet, “with the Picton Branch having the most identified issues including shelving that is too close together and inadequate washrooms.”

These weaknesses will all be remedied with the upcoming expansion. Construction is planned to begin this spring to expand the Picton Branch Library and improve accessibility and safety throughout the building. This expansion will also add quiet spaces, meeting rooms, technology areas and more. If you are interested in learning more about the expansion or making a contribution to help us cross the fundraising finish line, visit The audit process provides an opportunity for reflection and planning in library service.

Often library staff are busy with the day-to-day operation of the library and the audit asks us to pause to reflect and plan for the future. The guidelines evolve annually and we monitor the new editions as they are released to help us keep up to date with best practices. In the most recent guidelines, every aspect of library service, including planning for community programs, print and digital collections, IT services, and branch hours are considered and evaluated. A repeated theme of the audit is community input and involvement. Libraries recognize that we must be ever evolving to serve all members of our community in both traditional library resources and new and innovative technologies.

We recognize that many of the most successful programs and services we have implemented have arisen from a patron who asks, “Could we…?” Barbara Sweet, the library’s CEO, welcomes comments and suggestions from people across Prince Edward County and can be reached by email at or phone (613) 476-5962.