"The smaller the system, the more rural the system, then they will be affected more.”

Ford axes efficient library book sharing system

in Community/Education by

It’s a government that is apparently obsessed with finding efficiencies. Yet Premier Doug Ford’s PC government just axed one of the most effective and efficient services in the Ontario library system – a broad-based sharing program between the province’s libraries.

Funding for two key library services – the Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) and the Northern Ontario Library Service (NOLS) has been cut in half. SOLS – of which Kawartha Lakes library system is a member of — supplies courier service that moves material between different library systems. Given the deep cuts, it has now been suspended until May 31 while they clear the backlog of books and items in transit.

According to Director and CEO Jamie Anderson of the Kawartha Lakes Library system, the decision was “short sighted.”

About 200-250 items per month for their patrons are moved about through other libraries, showing the popularity of the system.

“We also supply books for other library systems. We are about an equal lender and borrower, moving abut 5,000 items in 2018,” says Anderson.

College or university students may use it to acquire a book or resource for free to complete their work. Families may use it if, say, a book is missing in a series in the Kawartha Lakes system but yet another library has it.

“It efficiently fills the gaps in all of our systems,” says Anderson.

“A lot of people who are doing family history, too, may request church records from say, the eastern townships,” he says for another example.

Libraries that want to find a way to acquire a book from another system will now have to pay a premium through Canada Post’s book rates, but that is money that could be better spent elsewhere – such as in acquisitions for the library.

Anderson says the $3.1 million budget now being cut in half to $1.5 million means about 28 drivers for SOLS will be laid off.

It’s not clear yet if this funding gap will also affect the supply and administration of the library’s e-book collection.

“I think it was short sighted,” Anderson says of the funding cut.

“SOLS was a great example of efficiencies at work that affects 300-plus library systems across the province,” he tells the Advocate.

While Kawartha Lakes, as a medium-sized system, will continue to find ways to make some level of service happen, it will cost money. “The smaller the system, the more rural the system, then they will be affected more.”

Anderson points out the inter-library loan method “spoke to fiscal responsibility,” given all the libraries were sharing resources.

But this was an efficiency the Ford government seems not to have grasped.

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Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Lindsay Advocate. He is the author of 'Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World,' and is also Vice Chair of the Ontario Basic Income Network. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, Roderick has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Canada, Senators, and Mayors across Canada. He also wrote and published a series of books for youth about Canada's Prime Ministers as teens.

7 Comments

  1. I would be very interested to know if a rions ate bring taken to defend public libraries. I would be happy to do what I can to support KLL. We just moved here 6 weeks ago and go to library at least once a week. We love this library system already.

  2. I am in a quandary with the loss of Interlibrary Loans System. I live in S.E. Ontario and my local libraries do not stock the kind of books I want to read so I rely heavily on this service. Now I will have to drive up to an hour to Ottawa or Kingston and pay a yearly membership to access books I cannot afford to buy. A good library is vital to my well being.. so much so I’d consider moving.

  3. This is a very useful article that explains how cuts to ILL services will hurt local library patrons in the Kawartha Lake-Lindsay area. The irony of these cuts is that they will have the most detrimental impact in smaller communities outside of the urban areas.

  4. This is a very useful article that explains how cuts to ILL services will hurt local library patrons in the Kawartha Lake-Lindsay area. The irony of these cuts is that they will have the most detrimental impact in smaller communities outside of the urban areas. I am hoping these cuts will be reversed as a result of public pressure so these needed services can be restored.

  5. As someone who has used the Inter-library loan system frequently when educating my children, and who now has grown children who use the system frequently, I can’t believe how shortsighted these cuts are. It has always been a hallmark of frugality, efficiency and community to share resources; to cut a service that embodied such a practice can only be seen as ideological rather than efficient.

  6. I can not count how many times over the last 10 years or so that I have used the book sharing program. So very efficient. Loved it, will dearly miss it. but I am sure there is no stopping the cancellation once it goes into effect. They need LOTS of $ for the future subway in Toronto. All these cuts help them” Bigley”. We will all just have to suck it up I suppose.

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