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OPEN SHELF editorial guidelines

Ontario Library Association (OLA) mission and vision

We empower our members in the library and information services sector to build informed, participatory, and inclusive communities through:

  • Research
  • Education
  • Advocacy
  • Partnerships


Leading and inspiring the growth and innovation of the library and information services sector.


  • Developing shared values
  • Responsiveness and awareness
  • Intellectual freedom
  • Literacy and lifelong learning
  • Innovation
  • Accountability

Open Shelf mandate

Open Shelf is the official magazine of the Ontario Library Association (OLA), published for members and the larger community as a continuing education service to keep them informed of trends and issues affecting the association as well as libraries all across Ontario and beyond.

As such, the editorial strives to ensure that Open Shelf is a forum for discussion, a place for news, and a source of ideas for the development and improvement of libraries, librarianship, and information management in the province. The Open Shelf editorial team is committed to publishing material(s) that align with the OLA mission, vision and values and that meet the legal frameworks as well as the professional ethics and standards that govern our work. To do so, we know that we will be making decisions based on the core principles of accuracy, impartiality, editorial integrity and independence, harm and offence, fairness, privacy, transparency and accountability.

The magazine publishes articles on topics relevant to the constituencies reflected in the main divisions of OLA: college and university libraries, library and information technology, public library boards, public libraries, school libraries, and bibliothèques francophones. The magazine also publishes a wide range of columns and features with information and commentary of interest across a broad range of divisions and readers and from various jurisdictions: Provincial, national and international.

The Open Shelf social media accounts promote articles published in the magazine.

Editorial principles

Note: The Open Shelf editorial guidelines apply to both the magazine and to material published on the Open Shelf social media platforms.

We will strive for accuracy in all our content, i.e., ensuring that our contributors produce material that, as appropriate to its subject and nature, is well sourced, evidence based, and presented in clear, precise language.  

We will strive to treat all content impartially and ensure that voices from diverse communities are well reflected and represented in Open Shelf. We will not knowingly and materially mislead our contributors, readers and OLA members.

We seek to avoid censorship, defined as “the removal or blocking of information, speech, or expression. Censorship includes “self-censorship,” where individuals or organizations limit what they say for fear of repercussions” (Canadian Journalists for Free Expression).

Editorial integrity and independence
The Open Shelf editorial team reports to the OLA Board. Within this mandate, however, our contributors and readers should be confident that our decisions are not influenced by outside or personal interests as well as political or commercial pressures.

We will be fair, open and honest in publishing Open Shelf content. Contributors, readers and OLA members will be treated with respect.

Offence and harm
Our goal is to reflect the diversity of opinion and experience of library staff and users in Ontario. We balance our mandate to publish original and challenging content, which reflects a breadth and depth of opinion, with our legal and professional responsibilities to avoid unjustifiable offence and harm to our contributors and readers.

Governed by the Canadian Privacy Act, we will respect privacy and will not infringe it.  

We will identify the creators of our content and use tags to help our readers make informed choices about the relevance of Open Shelf material(s).

We are accountable to our contributors, readers and OLA members and will deal fairly and openly with them. Trust in Open Shelf is a crucial part of our relationship with them.  We will be open in acknowledging mistakes when they are made and encourage a culture of willingness to learn from them.

Editorial procedures and policies

These editorial policies and procedures reflect the Open Shelf mandates, values and principles as well as the legal and professional frameworks within which OLA operates (see below). The editorial team applies these values and principles to all content published in the magazine (whenever and however received).

All materials submitted to Open Shelf for publication will be edited for:

  • Clarity
  • Consistency (e.g., voice, tone, web-based writing practices)
  • Length (i.e., word count)
  • Grammar and style (including spelling, usage, and format as per the Open Shelf style guide).  

More detailed editorial procedures and policies are found in the Open Shelf Author guidelines.

Legal framework for publication

  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication)
  • Canadian Criminal Code (Sections 318 [hate propaganda], 319 [public incitement of hatred] and Section 718.2 [Sentencing]).
  • Canadian Human Rights Act
    • All individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.”
  • Privacy Act (protection of personal information)
  • International conventions and covenants to which Canada is a signatory (e.g., the U.N. Declaration of Rights and Freedoms (Articles 18 [Freedom of thought, conscience and religion] and Article 19 [freedom of opinion and expression])

Professional standards

Canadian Federation of Library Associations/Fédération canadienne des associations de bibliothèques  (CFLA-FCAB)

The OLA is a member of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations. As such, OLA guided by the CFLA Code of Ethics. In particular, members of The Federation have the individual and collective responsibility to:

  1. Support and implement the principles and practices embodied in the current Federation Statement on Intellectual Freedom;
  2. Make every effort to promote and maintain the highest possible range and standards of library service to all segments of Canadian society;
  3. Facilitate access to any or all sources of information which may be of assistance to library users;
  4. Protect the privacy and dignity of library users and staff.

American Library Association statement of professional ethics

  1. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resource.
  2. We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
  3. We respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.

Journalistic standards and practices

Other editorial/journalistic ethics that inform the values and principles of the Open Shelf editorial team:


*Updated July 2023

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