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Area libraries working to restore services lost through provincial cuts

The solution is temporary
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Library staff (clockwise from back left) Joanne DeQuadros, Emily VanMarion, Cheryl Bowman, Bev Carew, and Rebecca Lazarenko, ready to deliver lost services. Submitted Photo

As you may have heard (this is basically how we start all articles now – lest one assume anything ever again), we have reinstated Libraries in Niagara Cooperative (LiNC) services, effective immediately.

So what exactly does this mean and how did it all come about? First things first (and we want to make this abundantly clear): absolutely NO provincial funding was restored to make this endeavour possible.  

As a consortium, LiNC (Pelham Public Library, Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library, Lincoln Public Library, Fort Erie Public Library, Niagara College Libraries, and ourselves) have collectively decided to provide a temporary (keyword) solution to the complete elimination of reciprocal library loans (we say reciprocal here, because we don’t want you to confuse it with the larger umbrella term Interlibrary Loan – more on that later).

This solution involved determining a midpoint drop off/pick up location and requires each library to provide one or several staff members that will be able to travel to this library and exchange items at least one or twice per week.  

And it’s not so bad. Everyone likes a little drive to break up their day and this might finally be the leverage we needed for that company Hummer (obviously a joke – no mail, please).  

While keen to attempt this endeavour (someone has to do something at some point – that’s our life philosophy), it’s important to note that this will take staff away from their already full workloads and is certainly not cheap. That said, it’s necessary to test the potential sustainability of such a service into the future rather than simply accept the complete termination of reciprocal borrowing and admit defeat.

To review, LiNC works a little like a universal/single system library amongst the six institutions. Using our combined online catalogue, patrons can request any items be sent to their home library. We’ll be in the car, engine running, until our coworker steps out the door, gives the signal that a hold has been placed, and off we go. Nope. That’s not at all how it will work.

In fact, we hope you’ll appreciate that this temporary (there we go with that word again) solution will likely take longer than the LiNC service to which you may have been accustomed. For obvious reasons. But we’ll certainly attempt to provide you with the level of service you’ve come to know. This is really all about restoring fundamental services to your community. 

Now back to that Interlibrary Loan term. Keen geographers (and basically anyone that’s ever been in the Niagara Region) will note some glaring gaps in our list of consortium members. To explain, LiNC is a completely voluntary consortium based off a shared Integrated Library System (ILS) platform (in this case, Evergreen). Individual libraries have the opportunity to opt in or out of the consortium at their own discretion.

So at this point, reciprocal sharing is regulated to the six systems listed above, regardless of our proximity to other institutions in the region. Any borrowing outside the consortium is what we’d consider more of a traditional Interlibrary Loan (ILLO) service and encompass any public library in Ontario. Plus any Niagara libraries not involved with LiNC. Since, as mentioned, NO funding has been restored, broader ILLO services will not be restored, either. Whether or not something will be sorted in the future is anyone’s guess.

Right now, we are focusing on this one branch of reciprocal borrowing services that is local, more cost-effective, and actually made up a significant increase in our overall Interlibrary Loan (umbrella use here) stats. And did we mention it’s temporary?
 





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