Message from the Mississippi Mills Public Library Board about Library Service in 2021

The Mississippi Mills Public Library Board is proud of what the Mississippi Mills Public Library has accomplished and we are confident that we can meet the needs of all Mississippi Mills residents while continuing to grow and change with the evolving role of libraries.

What does library service look like today?

The Mississippi Mills Public Library has evolved into a community information, creation, and exploration hub that aims to meet the needs of all residents throughout Mississippi Mills. Even during the challenges of 2020, the Library circulated over 91,000 items. We hosted Lego robotics and computer-programming workshops, gave out 2302 activity kits to keep people busy throughout the pandemic and residents downloaded over 21,000 eBooks, audiobooks and videos. Throughout this challenging year, the Mississippi Mills Public Library has proven to be a resilient, thriving library system that aims to improve the quality of life for all people through Mississippi Mills.

In order to anticipate the needs of the future and ensure compliance with the Public Libraries Act, the Mississippi Mills Public Library Board has requested Council to remove Carleton Place Public Library funding from the Recreation Cost Sharing Agreement with Carleton Place and Beckwith.

How do we plan to serve South Ramsay residents?

We do understand that some South Ramsay residents consider Carleton Place their home base. The Library Board is researching ways to ensure these residents have access to library service and welcome feedback from South Ramsay residents. For more information or to provide suggestions, please email Cathy Peacock, Library Board Chair at or call 613-256-1037. We aim to promote our services to South Ramsay residents and encourage Mississippi Mills residents to support all their local services, including our innovative library system.

What is a reciprocal borrowing agreement?

Currently, many of the 635 Mississippi Mills residents registered with Carleton Place Public Library are using both library systems. The original cost sharing agreement was to ensure South Ramsay residents could continue to use Carleton Place facilities – but after amalgamation many other Mississippi Mills residents joined the Carleton Place library. Unfortunately, patrons using both library systems result in a duplication of costs for all Mississippi Mills residents. For example, in the current cost sharing agreement all Mississippi Mills residents pay for collections and programs that are very similar. In fact, Mississippi Mills and Carleton Place share the same digital collection through Overdrive, which means Mississippi Mills residents are paying for this collection twice. Municipalities must be prudent with their spending and it is the Library Board’s financial responsibility to disclose any duplication of costs.

In the future, we believe a reciprocal borrowing agreement with Carleton Place is the answer for residents who wish to use both library services. Reciprocal borrowing agreements between library boards allow residents to use participating library systems without taxpayers paying any additional non-resident or cost sharing fees. The Library Board signed a reciprocal borrowing agreement with Perth & District Union Public Library in 2019 and has had an agreement with Lanark Highlands for many years. In order to negotiate a reciprocal borrowing agreement with Carleton Place Public Library, the Mississippi Mills Public Library needs to be removed from the Recreation Cost Sharing Agreement.

What is the Cost Sharing Agreement?

The Recreation Cost Sharing Agreement has been in place since 1987. The initial agreement was between the Town of Carleton Place, the Town of Almonte, the Township of Ramsay and the Township of Beckwith. The agreement included an analysis of the cost sharing calculations for recreation facilities in all municipalities. In terms of the library portion, the cost sharing funding was to ensure that Ramsay residents living close to Carleton Place could continue to use the Carleton Place Public Library.

Much has changed since 1987. The Almonte Branch was much smaller, digital collections (eBooks/downloadable audiobooks and videos) were not widely available and Mississippi Mills and Carleton Place had not experienced the expansion and growth that has happened over the past 34 years. In 2021, residents of Mississippi Mills and Carleton Place have much more choice for library services and for recreation services across Lanark and in Ottawa.

Why does the Library Board want to leave the Cost Sharing Agreement?

#1 – According to the Public Libraries Act, once a library board is established by municipal council, responsibility for determining library service falls to the library board. In 2002, the Ministry responsible for public libraries wrote this clarification:

Can a municipality that has already established a library board, enter into a contract for library services with a neighbouring library board under the Municipal Act, 2001, s. 19 (1)(2) and receive provincial operating funding under the Public Libraries Act?

No.  Although the Municipal Act, 2001 may permit a municipality that has already established a library board to enter into a library services agreement with a neighbouring library board, such an arrangement would not be consistent with the provisions of the PLA.

#2 – As a governing board, the Mississippi Mills Public Library Board (MMPLB) is fiscally responsible for the cost of library service. Though the MMPLB does not have control over the cost sharing budget, this money is included in the cost for library service in the Mississippi Mills budget.

In 2021, Mississippi Mills will pay $59,893 to the Carleton Place Public Library. Since 2016, taxpayers have paid over a quarter of a million dollars to Carleton Place for library service. This annual cost does not make financial sense when the Mississippi Mills Public Library offers excellent service, as proven through the recent accreditation approval by the Ontario Public Library Guidelines and Monitoring Council in 2018.  Provincial accreditation verifies that MMPL offers a high standard of library service for the whole community, including South Ramsay through our Almonte and Pakenham branches. Distance to library service is a measured standard in the accreditation process and residents must not have to travel more than 45 minutes to a branch or kiosk. When looking at travel distances, all Mississippi Mills residents can reach either Almonte or Pakenham easily within 45 minutes.

Carleton Place and Mississippi Mills are both predicted to grow significantly over the next twenty years. At the same time, municipal budgets continue to shoulder new costs. It is the Library Board’s duty to offer “comprehensive and efficient public library service that reflects the community’s unique needs” (PLA). The Mississippi Mills Public Library Board does not feel that this will be possible in the future, if contributions to the cost sharing agreement continues to grow.

This is a difficult decision but we know that Mississippi Mills residents want to support their community and their community library.

Thank you,

Mississippi Mills Public Library Board