Interlibrary loan services will return, concerns on what new system will provide

MINDEMOYA – While there are more concerns being raised, this time with cuts to personnel with Ontario Library Services-North, there appears to be some good news in terms of the interlibrary loan services, a local librarian told the Recorder last week.  

“It was going to be bad for us if we were going to lose our interlibrary loan services (through funding cuts),” said Claire Cline, Central Manitoulin librarian, last Friday. “The OLS-North has indicated this service will be reinstated as of June 1, which is great news for the library. We do about 300 interlibrary book loans a year.” 

However, Dayna DeBenedet, chief librarian and CEO of the Dryden Public Library said, “we understand the interlibrary book loan program in Northern Ontario is being returned. We had heard at one point that this was going to be eliminated altogether (with funding cuts), but now it is going to stay. The service will resume but we aren’t sure how it will look until June 1; it may be that some libraries will not be able to provide the service as it has in the past due to possible postage costs. We will have to see then.”

Ms. DeBenedet added that, there had been other cuts made as well.

At a Central Manitoulin council meeting last week, council passed a recommended motion by the Water, Waste and Education Committee recommending, “the province to restore funding to Ontario Library Service-North in recognition of the unfair and disproportionate impact of these cuts on Northern Ontario public libraries. Therefore, be it resolved that the Municipality of Central Manitoulin Council supports the Central Manitoulin Public Library’s request for the government of Ontario restore funding to Ontario Library Service-North and be it further resolved that the municipality of Central Manitoulin urges the province of Ontario to support sustainable long-term funding for Ontario’s Public Libraries and be it finally resolved that a copy of this resolution be sent to the office of the premier, to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, to the Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs, to local MPPs, to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, to the Ontario Library Association and to the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries.”

“The gist of all of this is there has been some reductions in funding to libraries,” said Richard Stephens, mayor of Central Manitoulin. “The local library had concerns and provided this motion to the committee, who adopted it.”
“I really think the removal of funding for the interlibrary loan program really has an impact on small libraries like ours,” said Councillor Steve Shaffer. “I think it was a short-sighted decision to eliminate that program.”

Councillor Dale Scott said, “I would like to be optimistic, but unfortunately when government finance offices made a decision, it is made a long time before it is  announced.”

Ms. DeBenedet, in a letter to all Northern Ontario libraries dated May 9, wrote in part, “today, our libraries were informed that half of the unionized staff positions (five FTE positions) at Ontario Library Service-North have been eliminated, and a sixth reduced to part-time, due to recent cuts to the operating budget announced in the 2019-2020 provincial budget. Additionally, one full-time employee non-union position will be eliminated at the end of this fiscal year, and another non-union position has been reduced to part-time.”

“While much of the focus on these cuts has been on the interlibrary loan delivery system, “one of the individuals who lost their position at Ontario Library Services-North was involved in the administration of the interlibrary loan program,” continued Ms. DeBenedet. “It is now clear that provincial cuts to the Ontario Library Service will impact programs and services beyond interlibrary loans. The diminished capacity of OLS-North to deliver those programs will negatively impact our public libraries, and we believe that even programs and services that are maintained will operate at a reduced capacity due to extensive personnel cuts,” wrote Ms. DeBenedet. “We believe that these cuts have disproportionately and unfairly impacted libraries in Northern Ontario and jeopardize our ability to provide equitable library services in the North. We are also dismayed that the government chose to make these cuts without undertaking any consultation with Northern libraries about what the impacts could be on our organizations and our patrons.”