Provincial budget cuts have affected local book lovers in what seems like the smallest of services, but will hurt thousands.
The provincial government’s April 11 budget reduced the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport funding by $58.6 million, from $1.55 billion to $1.49 billion.
Among the affected services are the Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) and the Ontario Library Service North, which provide services to libraries throughout the province in small communities as well as larger cities.
SOLS serves close to 200 libraries, from Windsor in the south, to Ottawa and the Quebec border in the east, and as far north as Muskoka in the north.
Barrie Public Library CEO Lauren Jessop tells BarrieToday that services for the downtown and Painswick branches will be affected by these cuts.
“SOLS has decided they’re going to cut their inter-library loan service effective immediately, which will certainly affect our patrons,” said Jessop. “Last year, we had about 3,000 items that were borrowed by our patrons from other libraries and other libraries borrowed approximately 5,000 from us.
"That access to niche titles or things that are almost out of print or not available anymore, patrons here won’t be able to access that anymore," she added.
The cancellation of the inter-library service will affect northern communities a lot more than the larger cities, as those secluded areas rely more on the service than any where else, but Jessop says you can’t tell what lies ahead, though, and is hopeful no more cuts to libraries will be made.
“We pay close to attention with what is going on with the provincial government, but I can’t say what they may decide to do,” said Jessop. “We do receive an operating grant from the province annually and I don’t think it’s changed as it has been the same frozen amount for a while. The last I saw there was no danger to that, but it is hard to say at this point.”
More than 20 full- and part-time drivers will lose their jobs as a result of the cuts as drivers will no longer be needed to deliver goods and services, but Jessop does not anticipate anyone with the Barrie Public Library losing their job over these cuts.
“Some of the staff’s daily tasks will change as we had a lot of them doing work with the inter-library loan system, but we don’t see anyone losing their jobs in Barrie over this,” said Jessop.