Provincial cuts affect library operations

By Chad Ingram

A 50 per cent reduction in funding to the Southern Ontario Library Service by the provincial government will significantly impact the Haliburton County Public Library.

On April 18 library staff received news of the funding cuts.

“We received word that two services have been cut to us” library CEO Bessie Sullivan told Haliburton County councillors during an April 24 council meeting. “Those two services are one they run a provincial courier system that goes to every library in the province and two they run a provincial inter-library loan system which was actually designed to make access to information equal throughout the province.”

The inter-library loan system allowed the Haliburton County Public Library which has a relatively small collection to supply patrons with materials from outside of the county. That service ceased immediately and any orders that had been placed for materials will not be filled.

“You could get access to every collection in the province” Sullivan said. “That is no longer. So that’s huge in terms of access to information equality of access … yet again rural areas having services cut. So that concerns us … It doesn’t cost us because it’s not our program but it costs our population.”

As for the courier service “that’s how we got our new books” Sullivan said explaining that about 80 items per week “so three fairly large boxes” were delivered. “That cost of shipping had been hugely supplemented by the Southern Ontario Library Service. That is no longer. So we are about to receive a bill … which we have no idea what it will be but we will now start to be charged … for receiving new items.”

“So at the same time that people can no longer get access to collections all over the province we are now going to have to pay to ship anything new to us” Sullivan said. “So it’s a problem.”

Algonquin Highlands Deputy Mayor and Haliburton County Warden Liz Danielsen wondered if there was some way to figure out approximately what those new additional costs would amount to.

Sullivan said there were some formulas library staff could plug numbers into “but we’re just guessing on all the numbers we don’t know what the boxes weigh … a box of DVDs does not weigh the same thing as a box of hardcovers so it’s just really hard for us to gauge.”

As soon as the library receives its bill Sullivan said those new costs would become clear.

“So then it’s probably a library board discussion then what’s your intention as the library CEO to address this?” asked Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt.

Sullivan said there would have to be major conversation at the board about what the changes will look like.

“There has to be because we’ve got to find the money” she said.

“So there is going to be a bigger-picture conversation coming about about what our library looks like for our people” Moffatt said.

Sullivan said library CEOs have been told that core library funding from the province will not be cut.