A blog from the Southern Ontario Library Service

SOLS Budget Cuts in 2019/2020

On Thursday April 11th, the 2019 Ontario Budget was tabled in the provincial legislature. On Friday April 12th, I was informed by the Ministry that the SOLS operating grant would be reduced by approximately 50%. This is a substantial cut which must be absorbed in the current 2019-20, fiscal year. Ontario Library Service-North is also facing a significant cut to its operating grant.

I know you probably have many questions, as do we, but right now, my attention is wholly on the task of making difficult decisions that impact my staff and our continued capacity to provide you with the services that you need. I will keep you apprised as we work through this very dark time.



21 thoughts on “SOLS Budget Cuts in 2019/2020

  1. SOLS has been a lifeline for libraries – particularly smaller libraries whose Townships do not have the revenue base to support the quality of services smaller libraries have been able to give their communities with SOLS support. One has to ask the question is there a rural-urban divide here?
    SOLS provides:-
    – professional advice on policy issues; CEO advice when handling Council or Library Boards
    – networking meetings for library CEOs, steered by our designated SOLS Library Consultant
    – Inter Library Loans – connecting smaller centres with all of Ontario’s libraries collections
    – Courier Services that connect us to other libraries for shared “pooled” collections – such as Large Print – to assist our
    aging community
    – Training for Library Board Governance – a vital service for members, particularly new members
    – Training and skill-set building for Library Staff through SOLS training workshops, assisting us in many areas, including
    working with the most vulnerable in our communities
    – Researching “best practices” for libraries on an ongoing basis, through analysing information and observing libraries
    behaviour, to advise and contribute the data which allows each individual library to continuously improve their services
    to their specific community’s needs, particularly their most vulnerable members

    SOLS is our “Mother Ship” allowing all libraries to work together as one unit serving Ontarians so that everyone has equal access to library services.

    1. To Mary & Barb:
      Thank you so much for your kind words and the description of SOLS as the “Mother Ship”! Rest assured we will continue to serve public libraries across the province to the best of our abilities. Barb

  2. The best advice that I can give is for you to take a deep breath and prepare to organize the fight for your life. In Saskatchewan we had the benefit of the province-wide one card system and the holds. Elimination of this directly impacted patrons across the province who wanted their material period and this lead to the Save our Libraries campaign (contact Christine Freethy – Save our Libraries Facebook group out of Rabbit Lake) which started the public opinion swell. We also created a petition for which we got over 20K in 3 weeks (see libraries petition http://slta.ca/advocacy/petitions-save-saskatchewan-libraries) (remember our total pop is just over 1 million people). I know things have changed since I worked for OLS-N but you are going to have to engage the libraries and the genreal public and WE NEED YOU TO FIGHT as it will impact us all -if Doug Ford gets away with this – the rest of the country will share your pain over the next couple of years. If you need advice – holler … I can put you in contact with the organizers of the Sask campaigns. One of the things I did was issue the lay-off notices within 3 days to my people which meant the NDP introduced them to the leg the next week as this is what it means 8 out 11 gone from the Palliser HQ. It gave a face and an immediacy to the issue. Stalling the inevitable only ensures that the ship cannot turn around.

  3. Public libraries all across Ontario are reeling under this heavy blow; speechless with shock and outrage. Mary and Barb’s comment gives the barest idea of how much Ontario libraries really need SOLS to deliver core services to our communities in an efficient and unified way. For us, Inter library Loans and the Overdrive e-resource collection simply would not be possible without SOLS, and they support our staff and boards in so many ways. To our colleagues, friends and supporters at SOLS, we are with you in spirit. If you say fight, we will FIGHT!

  4. How broad is the Interlibrary loan service you provide? Does it include Bruce Grey counties? We use interlibrary loan service a lot as our local library in Sauble is very small.

    1. The SOLS interlibrary loan system, which allows libraries to request materials from each other, is available to all libraries in the province. The van delivery service operates only in southern Ontario and reaches the main branches of 153 public libraries. Last year, we delivered over 710,000 packages and the vans traveled almost 1 million kms. To see which libraries are served by the SOLS vans you can go here: https://www.sols.org/index.php/routes

    2. I am shocked by this move by our government. As a resident of a smaller community, The Town of Blue Mountains, I rely on the availability of materials through the inter branch loan programme as do many of my fellow book club users and book lovers in general. Upon reflection I am curious as to the exact number of dollars this reduction involves. As I am unaware of your existing support totals from the government I would appreciate being informed of that amount so it can be compared to other government initiatives.

  5. I just want to be clear on budget cuts because cbc says 50% cut and “In Ontario’s budget for 2019-20, which was tabled April 11, the province plans to reduce the ministry funding by $58.6 million — from $1.55 billion to $1.49 billion.”
    That is not 50%! So just curious what the real numbers are.

    1. Lyndsay: that amount was for the entire Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport. The Ministry which oversees public library services has chosen to cut SOLS’ budget by half.

    2. Hi Lyndsay, I too was confused by this. It appears the province has cut the funding of the entire ministry of culture and sport (of which SOLS & OLSN are a part of) by 58.6 Million. So it’s up to the Ministry to decide where that money is cut from, which appears to be SOLS and OLSN by the tune of 50% of their current budget, which I do not know the number of. This could equate to only $5-10 million of the total $58.6 million they are looking to cut.

      1. The amount of money being cut from SOLS is half of their budget, from just over $3 million to about $1.5 million dollars. So overall a small amount of money for the Ministry’s overall budget, but hugely impactful for public libraries.

    3. Lyndsay,
      I did a double-take too at the 50% cut vs. $58.6 million cut. What I believe is key is the line above:

      “The Ontario Library Service delivers services on behalf of the Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
      In Ontario’s budget for 2019-20, which was tabled April 11, the province plans to reduce the ministry funding by $58.6 million — from $1.55 billion to $1.49 billion.”

      The Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport has passed that cut along to the OLS. The OLS (based on their financial statements) received a bit under $3.5 million a year from the province in previous years.

      Hope that helps folks out!

  6. The numbers you are quoting reflect cuts to the entire Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. The 50% refers to the cut to the SOLS Operating budget.

  7. This is striking at the heart of creativity, innovation and wisdom. Wrong message to send to our future generation, first the schools then the libraries. Priorities are so mixed up. How about funding tailgate parties along with buck a beer! Is this how we are shaping our future?

  8. This is a black day for library community. To all colleagues at SOLS – thank you sincerely for your help, support over the years and holding up the unique inter library loan service.

  9. I use the Niagara Region`s inter-library loan system on a regular basis. This news is incredibly saddening. I encourage everyone to look into ways to support your local libraries and to keep them thriving!

  10. SOLS is supportive in many ways that I have been striving to share with library users, the Board and municipal Council. The impact of the cut to the ILLO is devastating. We borrow an average of 250 items a month and lend almost 300 – and this doesn’t include all the requests made. How will public libraries continue to provide access to items to our users that inspire creativity, literacy, and more. The impact on people is huge – the SOLS team including the 24 FT and PT staff that will be losing their jobs; users of all ages; staff; vendors of materials (SOLS delivers them). How will we get materials requested? Our budgets have little wiggle room. I’ve already heard from one vendor in Toronto stating that shipping costs are increasing; I have said to reduce the items in the order to cover the increases. The Owen Sound local newspaper just shared that the cost of SOLS services to Ontario residents is eighty five cents per person. A great deal indeed. And it is being taken away.

  11. To help me frame an appropriate response to my local MPP concerning the provincial government’s abrupt termination of funding for the Interlibrary Loan Service (ILS), I would appreciate your providing me, if you can, with some basic stats:
    (1) Annual operating cost of ILS and year-over-year increase (%), if any, for the past 3 years
    (2) # of books moved through the ILS, annually, past 3 years
    (3) No of users, past 3 years, with geographic distribution
    (4) User demographic breakdown, if available.
    As a frequent user of this valuable service, I reject any notion this termination represents an “efficiency”.

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