Mono, Orangeville open to discussions on service funding for library

June 22, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Orangeville Public Library is reaching out to its neighbours as part of its strategic plan for the service’s future.

Sheri Marks, the library board chairperson, and Darla Fraser, its CEO, met with Mono council on June 13. Marks introduced the new strategic plan and an intention for the board and Mono to work together so all residents can have a chance to “soar to new heights.”

The last time a representative of Orangeville’s library addressed Mono council was before the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent social shutdowns.

“A lot has changed since then for everyone,” Marks said.

One of those changes is that the board is comprised of new members, “a good mix of engaged citizens to cover the library in the next term of office,” she said.

Marks and Bill Rea are the only returning members. Rounding out the board are David Waugh, Jackie Demczur, Peter LeBlanc, and Orangeville councillors Joe Andrews and Tess Prendergast as vice-chairperson.

“It’s a new experience for our councillors as well as the other public members,” Marks said. “And we’re all excited to officially share our vision and our plans for the future.”

The library launched its new strategic plan in October 2022, the result of “thoughtful and enthusiastic input” from Orangeville residents and other stakeholders, she said. More than 1,500 people were polled about their ideas and aspirations for the library.

Accessibility has been improved at the Carnegie Library on Mill Street in Orangeville. The library has also formed new partnerships in the community with such organizations as Credit Valley Conservation at Island Lake.

Marks said new programming inside and outside the library is also offered.

“We are always open to ideas on how we might collaborate as we work to provide library services for everyone,” Marks said.

She said the means of fee invoicing non-Orangeville residents at its library is being reviewed. Mono has been invited to take part in the process.

“The current arrangement is working well for the residents of Mono,” she said. “But, for the library, it’s very transaction-heavy and very hard to estimate long-term.

“We would be happy to meet, discuss, to come up with new ideas, at your convenience, of course, to consider different alternatives or options on how we might be able to do that going forward.”

Deputy Mayor Fred Nix offered a reminder as to why Mono left the previous funding arrangement in favour of a fee-per-person model.

Darla Fraser, the library’s CEO, said that change happened before her involvement with the library. But, she said, she’s aware that it was precipitated by the capital costs associated with Orangeville opening its second branch at the Alder Street arena.

Nix said Mono’s share of the costs was in the range of about $250,000. Basically, he said, that price was too steep for what Mono was getting from the arrangement.

“Of course, we can sit down and have a discussion about new funding arrangements,” he said. “But just as a warning … we’ve been scared off once.”

“It would be great to touch base with everyone,” Marks said. “Just to open that discussion. It may be that nothing changes, but at least then we brought it to the table to discuss.”

Nix said the bill to Mono for its residents using Orangeville’s library services is up to about $83,000 a year.

“You say there’s a heavy administrative cost to that,” he said. “Like what, 10 per cent? Do you have any idea?”

Each of the about 500 transactions a year keeps staff longer at the desk to process paperwork, Fraser said.

“It’s not heavy,” she said. “It’s not unmanageable.”

Marks thanked Mono council for including library information in its municipal newsletter.

“We believe, working together, we can add quality of life for your residents,” Marks said.

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