Patrons lose access to inter-library loans
By Sue Tiffin
Katina Aleksander is a mom of three and frequently found at the library.
“We’ve always loved reading for the sheer pleasure of it,” said Aleksander, whose son in particular is a bookworm who she said devours books.
Besides enjoying the library for pleasure, Aleksander is one of many local homeschooling parents who relies on the library for the books they require for their curriculum. In Aleksander’s case, her family’s curriculum is heavily literature-based, which means they typically have upwards of 50 books – both fiction and non-fiction – out at any given time.
“It would be financially impossible to do what we do without library services,” she told the Times.
On April 18, Haliburton County Public Library staff learned of a 50 per cent reduction in funding to the Southern Ontario Library Service by the provincial government, according to library CEO Bessie Sullivan, who addressed Haliburton County councillors with the issue during an April 24 council meeting.
As a result of that loss in funding, she said two services have been cut: a provincial courier system in which 24 drivers moved more than 710,000 books to 153 libraries throughout the province including HCPL at reduced shipping rates, and the inter-library loan system enabling libraries to share books with each other. That service – which Aleksander said opened up many more options for her and her family – abruptly ended.
“A lot of the required reading for our curriculum is no longer attainable,” said Aleksander. “We will have to make some changes and look to get some of our reading needs met through other sources when necessary.”
The Minden-based mom noted the sharing service was important to those living in a rural community who don’t have the same sizeable collection of books as elsewhere.
“Everyone will feel the impact of these changes,” she said.
When asked about her thoughts on her government’s cuts to the Southern Ontario Library Service, Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, said via email:
“In today’s economic climate, the government must look for efficiencies and ways to make sure we protect what matters most in our province. One area where efficiencies could be found is the running of an inter-library loan and delivery program. While the concept is admirable, couriering books on demand by vans between different library boards all across Southern Ontario is actually slow, inefficient, environmentally unfriendly, and expensive, especially now that digital resources are available.” Scott said the government recognizes the importance of libraries to rural communities.
“Our government is committed to maintaining base funding for Ontario’s libraries,” she wrote. “In 2018/19, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport provided over $25 million in funding to Ontario libraries and will continue that funding in 2019/20.”
When asked about her message to Haliburton County library patrons who are affected by the inter-library loan service ending as a result of the SOLS cuts, Scott wrote: “We recognize that libraries are important to local and rural communities, and they provide valuable opportunities to learn and share in Ontario’s diverse culture and should be protected. My colleagues at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport are looking forward to meeting with SOLS and Ontario Library Service - North in the coming weeks to discuss potential ways to move forward and ensure that core services and programs are not interrupted. I want to ensure library patrons in HKLB that they will continue to have access to the vast selection of materials that libraries offer.“
For now, Aleksander – who said she prefers having an actual book in her hand and that she doesn’t tend to use digital resources, which still have a cost related to their use – said her family will “figure it out the best we can.”
“It’s sad,” she said. “It’s all of our kids’ futures, their educations that will be hurt.”