Provincial funding to library services cut in half

Ontario Library Service discloses effects of 50% cut

The Northern and Southern Ontario Library Services (NOLS and SOLS) are experiencing a heavy 50 per cent cut in funding that will take effect this Friday, April 26.

This was announced abruptly with the release of the provincial budget on April 11.

“Truly the end of an era in provincial resource sharing,” said Barbara Franchetto, CEO of SOLS.

Twenty-four drivers who delivered 710,000 packages to 153 branches in the province will lose their jobs and therefore hinder libraries’ ability to provide a diverse and adequate amount of books for users to choose from.

Luckily some systems such as the Toronto Public Library will not be affected as much because they are mostly funded by the City of Toronto, but it will affect their ability to lend items to remote places within the province as well as borrow them from there.

The Interlibrary loan and delivery service is being suspended until further notice and is an integral part of what the SOLS provides. This covered the costs of getting books and returning them. Libraries are being asked to get as many items back to avoid delivery costs that will no longer be covered.

“If it’s a library that’s across the province in northern or eastern Ontario, people aren’t just going to pick up and drive and do that, so that question is will they pay for the cost of getting that material,” said Franchetto.

NOLS will see a larger impact because postage reimbursement was covered as part of the delivery service which was found to be more essential since the branches are farther apart.

“I am shocked by this move by our government. As a resident of a smaller community, The Town of Blue Mountains, I rely on the availability of materials through the inter-branch loan program as do many of my fellow book club users and book lovers in general,” commented Sallie Kedwell, in response to the budget cuts announcement on the SOLS website.

Without the Interlibrary loan and delivery service people who want to read a book that is not available at their local branch will have to pay for delivery costs.

At this rate, the process is seemingly more like buying a book that you do not own and having to pay for its return too. Alternatively, people could make the trip to the library that has the item, but this becomes an accessibility issue for those unable to walk very far or without a car.

“In terms of what will be left, that (training for staff) will certainly become a much bigger part of what we do,” said Franchetto. “We are likely going to make other cuts in other service areas as well.”

Training library staff using best practices for libraries is a key asset for systems that need to manage their operations more effectively.

SOLS also finds deals for libraries to save money on expanding their databases, e-books and audiobooks.

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Provincial funding to library services cut in half