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County of Simcoe Statement – County identifies efficiencies and modernization to regional library structure

Midhurst/April 26, 2022 – In 2019, the Government of Ontario initiated the Regional Government Review (RGR), an exercise to identify efficiencies in municipal service delivery and governance across the Province. The County of Simcoe struck the RGR Task Force and moved items to the Governance Committee to review and provide recommendations.

While numerous services have been considered by County Council, Councillors agreed that there were opportunities to streamline service delivery options for residents by modernizing supports currently provided through the Simcoe County Library Co-operative, which is managed by the County of Simcoe. As a result, after consultation with the local libraries and recommendations from an external consultant, County Council approved moving to a new Information Library Service (ILS) structure.

Under the ILS, taxpayers will see annual savings of $295,000 moving forward.

There will be no downloading to the local libraries, and benefits to the local library branches include:

  • Upgraded, cloud-based e-services IT platform
  • Upgraded library computers software to Microsoft365 (which will allow for greater IT support and security)
  • Speed and direct control over technical challenges by library CEOs through immediate resolution with IT HelpDesk and vendor 
  • State-of-the-art government grade cyber security threat protection
  • Single electronic library card, opening resources for all patrons regardless of municipality supported through reciprocal borrowing agreements
  • Continued support with regional procurement efforts
  • Elimination of over $50,000 in licencing fees paid by municipal library branches to the County
  • Existing collections of materials owned by the County of Simcoe will be donated to library branches for public access at no cost to the individual municipal branches; this includes multilingual collections

It is important to note that the Library Co-operative does not provide library services directly to the public (it is not a public facing branch). Rather, it 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. 

It is also important to note that the Library Co-operative was the last remaining Library Co-op in Ontario. 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 licen​cing costs under the new ILS structure as the County will absorb these licensing costs moving forward.

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.

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.  

Statement jointly provided by:

George Cornell

Warden of the County of Simcoe

Nina Bifolchi​

County Councillor and Chair of the RGR Service Delivery Task Force