3 Things You Need to Know about the “New” Interlibrary Loan System

We’re all adjusting to life with the “new” interlibrary loan system. You might have heard, after a 50% budget cut earlier this year, the ILL program in Ontario was paused so that libraries could get organized, and decide whether we could continue the service within our own budgets. Unfortunately, most libraries were already well into their budget year, and this made for some deep talks with library boards and municipalities. Once the Southern Ontario Library System (SOLS) and Ontario Library System North (OLS-North) tightened their belts even further, they came up with some funding to help us all out. But it’s probably not what you think, and it certainly won’t be the Interlibrary Loan service we were all used to.

So what has changed, and how does the system work now? Here are a few bits of info to help you understand what we’re doing….and what other libraries are trying to do as well.

You can order books once again through Interlibrary Loan. But…

  • Books are now being sent through the mail instead of being delivered by courier.
  • Canada Post has continued our preferred “library rate” for shipping, but we can only ship one book per bag, which means it’s going to cost quite a bit to ship books overall.
  • It’s possible that it will take longer to ship books, and receive books, although we haven’t quite determined that yet. So, keep that in mind if you order a book.
  • Not all libraries are going to be able to ship books in an unlimited format as we used to do. Although SOLS has promised to reimburse libraries for the costs, they only have limited funds, which will be divided up among libraries at the end of the year. We might see good funding, or we might end up having to take on the majority of the cost…no one really knows yet.
  • Not all libraries have been able to work out extra funding, either from their current budgets, or through extra funds from their municipalities. That means, not all libraries will be able to afford to participate.

What does that mean for you?

  • We’ll be able to order books, but they might take longer in the system, as not every library is responding just yet to the service.
  • Book clubs might be restricted to only a few copies of a book, which could be passed around to members to read prior to meetings. That might mean shorter lend times, but it will be up to your library to decide.
  • Not all book clubs will be able to continue in the same way. Some might have to resort to theme months, or author months.
  • We might not be able to get all of the books we once could. An obscure book still in a small library collection might not be loaned now because that library cannot participate in the ILL system due to costs.

We know you’d like to help….

  • Many patrons have offered to pay a fee for their Interlibrary loan, but according to the Library Act, libraries are not allowed to charge fees for borrowing books.
  • Your letters, phone calls, peaceful read-ins, and petition signatures were a HUGE help! You showed the province just how important library services are to patrons, and to the health of libraries in general. While it may not have reversed the cutbacks, we sure felt your support.
  • When ordering books through ILL now, please be patient, and know that we’re doing all we can to support this service and get your materials in a timely manner. No need to call us or drop in repeatedly to check on your item….we’ll contact you as soon as we get your ILL at our library!

Have you been affected by the cuts to Interlibrary Loan service? Let us know what you think!

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