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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Huron Councillor Worries About Cost Of Inter-Library Loan Program

Huron County | by Peter Jackson  

Myles Murdock says it is unclear who is paying for province-wide library loan program.

The provincewide inter-library loan program has returned, amid concern among Huron County Councillors about who will pay for it.

The new version of the program launched Monday, and the Huron County Library Board is worried that provincial funding of $340 thousand falls far short of the total operating cost.

Councillor Myles Murdock cautions the province not to turn the program into a "rural-versus-urban" scenario, where cities get the lion's share of funding at the expense of rural library systems.

He contends that the Progressive Conservative government at Queen's Park should act in the best interest of their rural voters, and explain the costing fully.

Murdock is concerned that the program may amount to a new form of downloading the cost of infrastructure and services onto municipalities.

The former Tory government under Premier Mike Harris transferred the operating and maintenance costs of ambulance services and many highways across Ontario in the 1990s.

Murdock adds that full high-speed internet connectivity in Huron County remains an issue that hinders the effectiveness of inter-library loans.

County Librarian Beth Rumble says the County remains committed to the program, but uncertainty surrounds the total cost.  

The inter-library loan program shut down last year, after the province cut funding for the Southern Ontario Library Service operating budget in half.

Fallout from the funding cut included elimination of vans SOLS used, to transfer materials between libraries.

The system now relies heavily on Canada Post to transfer books and other materials by mail.

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