What is a Community of Practice?

A community of practice consists of people who share a common sense of purpose, and agree to work together to solve problems, share knowledge, cultivate best practice and foster innovation around a topic.

Increasingly, adult learners are turning to peer learning opportunities for professional development. Communities of practice provide these opportunities and are organized around three components:

  • A group of individuals acting as a community of peers
  • A common interest amongst the members of the community
  • A shared practice related to the common interest.

According to research, information learned from peers in an informal environment is applied more quickly.


Communities of Practice offer individuals and organizations many benefits over individual learning. These benefits include:

  • Access to a community of peers who are likely to understand problems and issues and provide helpful advice.
  • A collaborative, social environment for people to learn together and from each other.
  • An opportunity to get to know peers in other organizations, regardless of location and distances.
  • A low cost alternative to learning and creating new relationships (time spent engaging with the community is the only price tag).
  • An easy way to share best practices and new ideas.
  • An easy way to share and collaborate on documents.
  • An opportunity to explore common interests more deeply than at many formal training events.
  • An opportunity to shape future learning opportunities offered across the province.


Communities of Practice for Ontario public libraries is one of the strategic collaborative initiatives resulting from the Libraries 2025 initiative. Communities are created to facilitate sharing of experiences and best practices, and overcome communications barriers.

Each community will have a focused, well-defined purpose directly relevant to Ontario public libraries.


OLS – North and SOLS will design the online environment, establish communities based on your input, and help them grow. It is the community members that will define, sustain and nurture the communities.

Members contribute to dynamic communities by sharing comments and ideas; sharing articles and other information beneficial to its members; helping to create new works and best practices.


Community relationships are based on trust, mutual respect, reciprocity, commitment and a collegial environment. These guidelines are intended to create positive community experiences for all members.

  • Each Community of Practice will have a clearly defined purpose.
  • Privacy and confidentiality is to be maintained within the community. Please consult other members before sharing information or material outside the community.
  • Community Moderators are responsible for creating a welcoming environment for all. The Moderator has the right to remove comments that may be deemed to be offensive or inappropriate for the community.
  • Members are encouraged to contact other members directly if issues arise around postings or comments and try to resolve the issue outside of the community. If the issue can’t be resolved, the Moderator should be contacted.