Frequently Asked Questions re: Ontario Library Service Funding Cuts
Posted On: Wednesday, April 24, 2019
I have heard that funding to Ontario public libraries was cut by more than 50%, is that true?
- The funding cut was to the 2019-20 budget of a specific organization called Ontario Library Services (OLS) which is the overall name used to represent the Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) and Ontario Library Services North (OLSN). These two government agencies were established by the Ministry “so that the public has equitable access to library services thus supporting a dynamic cultural environment, economic vitality and quality of life. This is to be achieved at a sustainable cost.”
What does ‘Ontario Library Services’ do?
- OLS provides these important services to 227 public libraries in Ontario:
- Inter-library loan (ILLO) network and database – allows us to search many public libraries in Ontario seamlessly using one interface and place/fill requests from other systems. Last year libraries in Ontario circulated a total of 437,687 items using this service.
- Inter-library courier – delivers material between different library systems anywhere in Ontario and, in many cases, also delivers the new books and materials purchased from vendors & wholesalers; saving individual libraries a significant amount of money.
- E-collections – via the Ontario Library Download Centre, a consortium for libraries in Ontario serving populations of less than 100,000. These libraries pay a small platform fee annually to give their patrons access to a collection of almost 80,000 e-books and audiobooks. The e-books and audiobooks in the collection are selected and paid for by SOLS and OLSN.
- Training, Advice & Consulting – for library staff and library board members across Ontario to ensure that all libraries, no matter their size and funding, have access to the tools they need to deliver equitable service.
- Pools – BMPL and many other libraries buy into pools of materials. These travel from partnering libraries after several weeks. Some of the Pools offered by OLS-N and delivered by SOLS delivery are DVD, Large Print, and Graphic Novel Pools.
- Catalogue – 118 of the 227 libraries currently buy into JASI, the Joint Automated Server Initiative. This is hosted by OLS-N and paid for by cost recovery by partners. OLS-N supports the tech staff which run this program and problem solve all needs of the library partners, including BMPL.
Will this affect day-to-day services at my local library?
- Yes, unfortunately, it already has. SOLS has announced that they are suspending inter-library loan services & the courier effective Friday, April 26th, 2019. This means we will no longer be able to offer this ILLO service to our patrons since there will be no system that we can use to place requests and no way for us to receive items from other libraries. This also has a direct impact on our book clubs, who require the ILLO and delivery service to provide materials. In 2018, our patrons ordered 4,041 items from other libraries. Beyond expanding our collection, it also gives our customers important access to:
- materials in other languages; accessible materials for people who have print disabilities; rare or out-of-print titles; and book club sets.
- It may also have an impact on our e-collections via the Ontario Library Download Centre since SOLS may not be able to order new & bestselling titles at the same rate. We have not yet heard about impacts to this collection, but it is very likely. Our library circulates more than 14,414 titles annually through this collection.
Will there be more cuts?
- On April 18th SOLS announced the suspension of ILLO and delivery service. This included the laying-off of 24 drivers. This cut alone does not bridge the gap for SOLS. OLS-N has not yet made announcements on how they will address the budget announcement, but we know they too will be reviewing options. There is no way to achieve the more than 50% cut to these budgets that will not directly impact the services of BMPL.
Will this affect my local library’s budget?
- The Minister of Culture, Tourism & Sport has stated that the 2019-20 Provincial Library Operating Grants for individual libraries will not be cut, however we know that is not correct. BMPL is responsible for returning the ILLO’s currently in the hands of our readers at our own cost. Items delivered by SOLS delivery, such as materials we order, will not have to be delivered out of our own budget. Most concerning is the loss of services we receive daily through our partnership with SOLS/OLS-N for collections and training which may not be offered at the same rate. As these groups purchase for libraries who buy in on an economies of scale, individually buying services would be more expensive and mean a reduction of services and products available in each of our libraries.
What can I do to express my concern over these cuts?
- You can communicate your concerns to the provincial government:
Hon. Michael Tibollo
Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport
6th Flr, 438 University Ave,
Toronto, ON M5G 2K8
Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Jim Wilson, MPP.
50 Hume St.
Collingwood, ON L9Y 1V2
Bill Walker, MPP.
20 1st Avenue West, Suite 100
Owen Sound, ON N4K 4K5
FROM THE BLUE MOUNTAINS LIBRARY BOARD
The Blue Mountains Public Library (BMPL) Board is very disappointed to learn of the cuts by the provincial government to the Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) and Ontario Library Service-North (OLS-N). With a slash in their provincial budget by more than 50% there have been immediate impacts to the library users throughout Ontario, including here. The first announcement by SOLS was the suspension of the Inter-Library Loan Ontario (ILLO) service. The loss of ILLO will profoundly impact BMPLs service level as we receive 4,041 materials annually through this program. As of the Thursday, April 18 th announcement we have recalled 150 ILLOs which were in the hands of our readers and fear the costs for mailing unreturned items following the end of SOLS delivery service when SOLS will lay-off their 24 drivers.
Indirectly, the loss of ILLO also impacts our book clubs which we are no longer able to support. We have always counted on ILLO to service these programs as we cannot supply the multiple copies of a book through our own collections. This is a direct impact to 15 book clubs with over 150 members and 1,800 materials annually. BMPL receive services from the Ontario Library Service-North (OLS-N), which was also cut by the province at over 50%. Direct impact to our community will be the loss of a portion of our DVD, large print, and print books, which were all in the provincial pool rotation. While we have not heard of any cuts to
their programs, we know that the pools depend on SOLS for the delivery, which ends effective April 26th.
We assume there will be further announcements as SOLS and OLS-N works to identify how to meet this extraordinary cut. SOLS is also the responsible agency for supporting our connectivity expenses, e-resources, audio/e-books, and training for the library board and staff. OLS-N manages the provincial catalogue which 118 of the 227 libraries in Ontario, including BMPL, participate. The province created SOLS and OLS-N as agencies to ensure efficient, equitable access to resource sharing which helps us stretch every dollar for many decades now. This need has not lessened over the years, but rather, has
become an entrenched function of the Ontario public libraries.
We have seen similar cuts to libraries in recent history. The Newfoundland / Labrador and Saskatchewan budget cuts of 2016 and 2017 respectively were both overturned when the public outcry reverberated through the halls of parliament. Your library board and staff hope that you will act by informing the Hon. Michael Tibollo, the Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson, and the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP, Bill Walker that these cuts must be reversed. For Ontario to be a successful province, Our Public Libraries must be Open for Business!
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