The Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) and Ontario Library Service - North (OLS-North) have announced they are facing cuts to their budgets of 50 percent or more. These cuts represent a clear threat to library service in Ontario - particularly for rural, remote and Indigenous libraries - and cannot be accepted.
SOLS currently provides a number of services that are critical to the function of Ontario libraries:
- They provide a courier service that moves materials between public libraries, meaning the public gets free, easy and timely access to a broader range of materials than they'd normally find at their own libraries.
- They provide critical training at low or no cost to library staff. Topics span from kids' programs, to leadership, to skills for helping library staff ride out and mitigate the opioid crisis and rise of critical social issues affecting our communities.
This latter training helps library staff save lives by connecting people with resources they need. It also helps prevent library staff from developing PTSD, by giving us a sense of control over how we handle the heartbreaking situations we encounter.
- They give Ontario libraries a way to band together when purchasing expensive online resources. Consequently, even people in the most remote locations have access to the best, most up-to-date research information.
- They provide resources to Indigenous libraries that help address the shortfall in funding they receive compared to other Ontario public libraries. This funding differential means that any cuts to SOLS will disproportionately affect Indigenous communities.
- Many more services, which you can see here: https://www.sols.org/
In short, SOLS is fundamental to libraries' abilities to serve their communities, as places where everyone can empower themselves and enrich their lives.
OLS-North (http://www.olsn.ca/en) provides many of the same services, plus extensive technology supports for libraries that cannot afford them otherwise. Because the libraries in the region tend to have much smaller budgets, the services provided by OLS-North are even more critical to their daily operations.
Both organizations have indicated that these budget cuts will lead to service reductions.
We call on The Honourable Michael Tibollo, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Premier Doug Ford, and the Ontario Government to reconsider and rescind these cuts. We must ensure all public libraries in Ontario are able to provide the services we need for the people of Ontario, our healthy communities, and a functioning democracy.