Library Impact Ontario, spearheaded by the Toronto Public Library, stands as a pioneering initiative leveraging data analytics and training to standardize outcome measurement with a focus on the impact of public library technology services on local communities. This effort fosters collaboration with public libraries across the province of Ontario, Canada, forming a unified consortium of libraries, committed to a shared mission: harnessing data to ensure the vitality, adaptability, and accessibility of libraries for all.

Library Impact Ontario’s service, Bridge, is an innovative outcome measurement platform that collects, assesses, and visualizes technology data through dashboards, surveys, and reports. Province-wide comparative data empowers libraries with impactful insights for evidence-based advocacy. These services assist libraries in establishing standardized data, gaining valuable insights, expanding impact through collaboration, and building data confidence among staff.

Despite assumptions about widespread access, many libraries struggle to demonstrate their value for sustainable technology services. Disparities persist due to financial and systemic barriers, disproportionately affecting vulnerable individuals. Our outcome measurement framework assesses library impact on the digital divide by focusing on primary outcomes: Digital Inclusion and Digital Literacy. These primary outcomes drive secondary outcomes like Community/Social and Civic Engagement, Creativity and Innovation, and Workforce Development. This framework enables Ontario’s public libraries to assess their service performance and align with social and economic priorities.

Our recent report, “2021/2022 Bridge Report: Impact of Technology Services in Ontario Public Libraries,” underscores libraries’ role in narrowing the digital divide and advancing digital literacy. Findings highlight that marginalized groups benefit significantly from technology services, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era, where demand has surged. According to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of “Reducing Inequalities”, achieving digital equity requires “transformative change.”  With persistent advocacy for sustained governmental support for digital services, Library Impact Ontario can continue its mission of bridging the digital divide and enhancing digital equity.

Shawn Mitchell, Director, Policy, Planning and Performance Management, Toronto Public Library, Email: