Cornwall Public Library has been directly affected by last week’s announcement about the provincial budget cut to Ontario Library Services. The immediate consequence is that interlibrary loan delivery service will permanently cease to operate, effective April 26th, 2019. The entire Interlibrary loan program has been suspended until further notice as the Southern Ontario Library Service grapples with which services it can continue to offer with a budget that was cut in half without notice, from $3 Million to $1.5 million, after the operating year had started.
“The last courier out left this morning”, said library CEO Dawn Kiddell, “next week will be one final return delivery and the Summer Reading Club materials. And then, who knows?” 24 courier delivery drivers have lost their jobs.
The province stated that no public libraries would be directly affected by the budget cut. Cornwall Public Library has 5,444 library members registered for Interlibrary loan service. The library borrowed 3,575 items from other libraries and lent 3,230 items to other libraries in 2018. Demand for this service was increasing.
Large print books and audiobooks for seniors and homebound patrons were a major component of Cornwall’s Interlibrary loan service. “We have a homebound patron who is a voracious reader and borrows heavily from Interlibrary loan. She is deeply disappointed that she has lost this service, “says Kiddell.
Interlibrary loan was an important system of resource sharing and avoiding duplication among libraries. It was also a cost-effective way to supplement a library’s collection and stretch its budget by borrowing more expensive items like DVDs, CDs and classic TV series. Interlibrary loan also gave customers increased access to other languages; accessible materials for people with print disabilities; rare or out-of-print titles; and book club sets.
The Ontario Library Service also provides access to over 30,000 e-books and digital audiobooks to Cornwall Public Library for a low annual subscription fee. The library could not afford to purchase this type of collection. Individual e-books or digital audiobooks cost up to four times more than one print book and far fewer titles are published electronically.
Without Interlibrary loan, and with access to the e-book consortia threatened, the cost of providing access to these services will be downloaded to individual libraries and ultimately to their municipalities.
Anyone concerned about the loss of these services is advised to contact MPP Jim McDonell or stop by the library to sign a petition to reinstate funding for this service.