Inside the Library: Library developing inter-loan workarounds

It has been one month since the announcement the library inter-library loan system would be cancelled due to budget cuts to the Southern Ontario Library System.

I was amazed at the outcry from our patrons, only because generally people don’t necessarily know or need to know if the book they were picking up was one of ours or one that we had borrowed from another library.

In general, though, people do not take kindly to anything that impacts their library adversely.

Also, anyone who used the system recognized it was wonderfully fast and efficient.

So efficient that we borrowed 5028 books for our patrons last year.

ILLO enabled Prince Edward County library staff to find books on behalf of patrons in the smallest service corner of the province.

This was powerful.

It was rare we could not satisfy a request.

While we wait and hope for some positive resolution to this dilemma we have connected with our neighbours to the east.

The County of Lennox and Addington Library has agreed to enter into a reciprocal borrowing arrangement with us, so in addition to our Prince Edward County collection all of the holdings in the many L and A branches are available to us as well.

The only exception are recent releases.

Our newest books are just available to our patrons.

To make even more books accessible, we are purchasing some material that we would formerly have obtained through ILLO.

Again, we are still hopeful that a compromise will be found.

Our budget cannot extend to this extra purchasing for an extended period of time, but for the month of May, until VDX (the software that we use to order ILLO books) is live again, we strive to keep our customers happy.

Our hope is at the very least by June there will be a commitment to reimburse libraries for postage and in this way we can still enjoy reciprocal borrowing with other libraries in the province.

It has been announced that OLS-North (SOLS’ northern counterpart) has signed a transfer payment agreement with the province providing for postage reimbursement for ILLO service for patrons.

This will almost be business as usual for the northern libraries, as they did not enjoy the courier linkages that made the southern service so speedy. If we can provide ILLO service using Canada Post, we will be back in business.

You will probably notice the service is not quite as fast as we formerly enjoyed.

The library received van delivery four days a week before April 26th. Mailing all of our ILLO will be more labour intensive.

Staff will have to parcel books and take them to and from the Post Office, but at least it will give us access once again to the collections of the 257 libraries in the province.

We hope this will be possible, but for now we are still waiting for news.

The SOLS van also delivered newly purchased materials to our door for free.

Shipping costs for these items is something that we will now have to absorb.

SOLS is still looking for ways to absorb the enormous reduction to this year’s budget.

We rely on this organization in many ways- everything from advice on strategic planning, education of new staff, consortia buying, policy writing, and networking.

The quality of library service is almost as important as the library itself.

No one wants a library that disseminates misinformation or fails to keep up with modern trends and technologies, or that is uninformed about new programs and opportunities.

The impact of the cuts this year to SOLS will have a direct impact on all of the libraries in the province. We will do our best to ensure through the means we have that service delivery will not suffer.

-Barbara Sweet