An updated statement has been released regarding the changes to the Interlibrary Loan services in Ontario, and it's a bit of good news and bad news for rural libraries. You can check out the official statement here, or keep reading this post for a summary of how services at Hastings Highlands Public Library will be impacted.
The good news is that the interlibrary loan database is back online, and we (as well as your other local libraries) can begin submitting requests again. The bad news is that this is only a partial restoration of services, as it is possible some requests will no longer be able to be fulfilled at the discretion of the lending libraries we receive the books from. The reason for this is because these libraries will only be receiving a partial reimbursement for lending books, whereas in the past they received full reimbursement for lending their library materials. This covered the cost of postage as well as the packaging material and delivery. As all library budgets are already set for the fiscal year, lending libraries will need to make adjustments within the budget and staffing they already have to see if they can continue providing this service and to what capacity.
We've had many patrons offer to pay for the use of this service, however it is required by legislation that interlibrary loans be at no cost to patrons, which rules out this possibility. At this stage, it is up to the lending libraries we borrow these books from to determine what they can afford for this year, and their municipalities to determine what they can afford in the next fiscal year.
For a little context about the kind of costs these libraries are looking at, in 2017 there were 441,683 total loans in all of Ontario with a cost of $940,484. This cost was previously covered with special contracts through SOLS, but the proposed new subsidy will only be able to cover a maximum $340,000 total. Some libraries may only be looking at a few thousand dollars extra a year to continue lending books, but lending libraries that received a higher volume of requests may be looking at a much steeper cost. They will also be responsible for individually processing each book that is requested which may affect the time it takes for books to be received.
If you have any items that you would like to request through interlibrary loan, we are now accepting requests again, but please be prepared for longer waiting times and the possibility of your request not being able to be fulfilled by the lending libraries due to these changes.