Information Library Service a step up and a step forward: CEO

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The County of Simcoe announced Tuesday that as a result of a Library System Service Delivery Review it will be moving from a library cooperative to an Information Library Service (ILS), resulting in an annual savings of $295,000.

Clearview’s CEO and library board chair were opposed to a library consolidation proposed during a Regional Government Review that would have resulted in lower tier municipalities uniting to form a single library system.

Clearview Public Library CEO Jennifer LaChapelle said the ILS is a step up from what was proposed and a step forward.

“I’m very hopeful,” LaChapelle told The Echo. “They’re taking a new direction but they’ve certainly listened to some of what we’ve said.”

Simcoe County had the last remaining Library Co-op in Ontario. The cooperative provides supplemental services to member municipal library branches through a largely administrative role, including circulation of videos and books, and helps to oversee the licensing process and functionality of some library software.

“Upon review, the circulation support was a duplication of services, as the Ontario Library Service provides the same circulation functionality to participating libraries across Ontario. Library branches may choose to utilize savings as they deem appropriate through the reduction of software licensing costs under the new ILS structure as the county will absorb these licensing costs moving forward,” said a joint statement released by county warden George Cornell and County Councillor Nina Bifolchi, who chairs the Regional Government Review Service Delivery Task Force. “Residents want to see responsible, efficient, innovative and modern service structures from their governments. The new ILS structure will provide benefits to residents, the county and our local library branches at a reduced cost.”

The new service will include IT supports, software upgrades, state-of-the-art government grade cyber security threat protection, continued support with regional procurement efforts, and elimination of over $50,000 in licensing fees paid by municipal library branches to the county.

A single electronic library card will increase access for all patrons regardless of municipality supported through reciprocal borrowing agreements.

Existing collections of materials owned by the county will be donated to library branches for public access at no cost to the individual municipal branches; this includes multilingual collections

“There are some really positive components in there,” said LaChapelle. “They could have just abandoned us and they certainly haven’t done that.” She said the new system means that municipalities will continue to operate as individual libraries and serve their individual communities.

LaChapelle said she looks forward to working with the project manager, and says she is confident the CEOs will work to inform something that is of value to the residents of Simcoe County.

“They have embraced so much of what we currently get from the library cooperative I think it’s a very positive thing and I think we can get really good results out of this,” said LaChapelle. “Change is scary but change is life so I’m going to embrace it… we’ll find ways to ensure that our service levels don’t drop, and possibly increase.”

County council also endorsed a motion to proceed with an investigation into the sharing of confidential information prior to it being discussed at county council. Furthermore, county council approved a motion to request that the province modify the Public Libraries Act to provide greater accountability by libraries to municipalities and taxpayers.

“We deeply value the vital role that libraries play in our communities, and collectively look forward to modernizing and enhancing the way our residents access and benefit from library services moving forward,” says the statement from Cornell and Bifolchi.

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