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Chance of higher demands, costs as library loans return

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With the announcement that interlibrary loans are returning to Fort Frances, some might say there's cause for celebration.

However, according to Fort Frances Public Library CEO Caroline Goulding, there could still be cause for concern.

“We're getting our mail rebate like we always used to get,” Goulding said.

“But obviously a big part of interlibrary loan is that people are sending books out, and the loaner's the one that pays, which is why there was always a rebate.”

Goulding explained that the way the old system worked was that the rebate a library received was based on the number of books it both lent to and borrowed from other libraries.

But as the scope of the involvement of the Southern Ontario Library Services in the interlibrary loan system is still unclear, there are worries that northern libraries could face an increased demand to lend further than in the past.

“We are further to the west, and people tend to look closer to home,” Goulding said.

“The concern is the knock-on effect. People that used to be closer to the south would borrow from the south, but they're now going to be looking solely to the north and then it kind of ripples across. So there are a lot of questions still.”

While the program has been reinstated, the amount of money available to the libraries for reimbursement hasn't.

An increase in demands for loans from a library like the one in Fort Frances would see that library spend more money to send books out, while not necessarily receiving as much back as a rebate.

“When you're suddenly taking out those thousands of books that were coming out of the south from those big libraries, suddenly, there's a strain on the rest of the system,” Goulding noted.

Goulding said that the library borrowed 633 books from other libraries last year and lent 719 to other libraries, numbers that will serve as a benchmark for budgeting going forward.

“We know that that's the capacity that we can handle budget-wise and that's what we plan to handle budget-wise this year,” she said.

“We're going to try and keep to a similar number, just so that we're not spending an extra $500 to serve a different municipality.”

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