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Caledon chief librarian concerned over provincial cuts to libraries

May 16, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Written by: JOSHUA SANTOS

An immediate change has come to the Caledon Public Library with fears of more forthcoming.

Delivery of the library’s inter-library loan program, where Caledon libraries collect thousands of books from other libraries, has freeze as the service has been postponed. It is distributed by the Southern Ontario Library Services (SOLS), where the Province slashed 50 per cent of their budget.

“We have access to over 70,000 titles on behalf of Caledon residents through that shared collection and that’s larger than some large municipalities have access to,” said Colleen Lipp, CEO and chief librarian of the Caledon Public Library. “We really rely on their purchasing power and ability to negotiate book purchases on our behalf. It really is a far more efficient way to get more bang for tax payer dollars then every library trying to negotiate those deals on their own.”

Lipp said they received correspondence from SOLS stating they’re working with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport who are looking at all their services and that there will be more information forthcoming.

“I hope it will be in the coming days, but I don’t know what that is going to look like yet,” said Lipp.

Lipp thinks the Ford Government was not aware of the implications cutting services to libraries would have on patrons. She said the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport assured the day-to-day operations of libraries will not change, which she believes is not true

“I don’t think they specifically targeted libraries,” said Lipp. “I think they are making cuts across a wide dearth of sectors, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so challenging. It’s very difficult for us to rally troops in support of this, where there are cuts going on across education and services for autism and flood plain management and healthcare; sadly, we’re in good company.”

People may think of libraries as a soft service but Lipp said it’s essential to residents and patrons, who use it for many reasons like searching for job or researching a diagnosis from a doctor.

“I think what a library does now, is so much more than what a lot of people might think of as a library, if they haven’t been in the library for a long time,” said Lipp. “We still do the traditional services that people would come to think of, when they come to the library, but really we’re evolving and shifting to the answer to what people need in any point of transition.

“When somebody moves to a new community, whether they’re new to Canada or new to a neighbourhood, very often their local library branch is the first place they stop. When somebody is a new parent, and they’re at home with a new baby and they want to come out and be part of a community and see some grown-ups for a change and bring their child to story time. That’s as much for the baby as it is for the parent.”

Although the Caledon Public Library receives 97 per cent of their budget from the Town, they do receive an annual public library operating grant from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. She heard that it is safe for now and they will continue to receive it.

“While we are not ungrateful for that, that funding has not changed in over 20 years,” said Lipp. “The purchasing power of what we receive, which is $58,171, in 2019 versus what we received at the end of the 90s, has significantly weakened.”

Further, she is more concerned that the Town will be downloading provincial expenses to municipalities, which in turn will have implications on how the library receives their money to operation.

“With various cuts and changes to legislation across so many sectors that has implications for downloading to the municipality and therefore there is simply less funds to go around at that level,” said Lipp.

“the size of the pie is not getting any bigger, but the way it is divided up has certainty changed over time.”

She said there has been a lot of media awareness raised and discussions across a number of other libraries.

“We are supportive of SOLS and are very appreciative of the work that SOLS has done in supporting libraries, and I think they’ve allowed us to be as efficient as we could be and they’ve always allowed us to deliver the best service we could, and I think we’re just disappointed that we’re not going to be able to always get what we could for patrons, in the way that we had previously,” said Lipp.



         

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