Library users across the region can expect to wait significantly longer to borrow resources after the State Library of Western Australia withdrew support for freight services for inter-library loans. As a result of the changes, library users will experience longer wait periods for all resources and, in some cases, will no longer be able to access resources in hard copy. Shire of Manjimup libraries and cultural services manager Vanda Dei-Tos said the feedback she had received on the changes had been a sense of disappointment. “Many have described the situation as another example of the reduced level of service often faced by people living in regional areas of the State,” she said. Ms Dei-Tos said the library was not informed of the changes to inter-library loans and the current freight contract until May 18. “The limited time between the notification and implementation of the State Library’s changes has made it difficult to continue the seamless service borrowers are accustomed to,” she said. “The cessation of the freight contract will significantly impact on ability to supply inter-library loans.” Until the end of June, the Shire of Manjimup libraries — including Pemberton, Manjimup, Northcliffe and Walpole — were able to provide most library resources within a week or two, however wait times are expected to soar. Ms Dei-Tos said an interim measure to keep freight costs to a minimum involves the sharing of items across a small group of libraries in the South West, using the Bridgetown Library as the collection/delivery point. “As always, challenging situations often demonstrate the resilience of local communities,” she said. The new system will involve a Busselton Library staff member delivering resources to Bridgetown Library on a weekly basis. From Bridgetown, a Shire of Manjimup staff volunteer will transfer these items to Manjimup, then Shire of Manjimup councillors will facilitate the transfer on to the other shire libraries. “These ad-hoc arrangements allow library services to continue, however borrowers will be facing significantly longer wait times for their items,” Ms Dei-Tos said. “A more cost effective and sustainable solution is being sought but is likely to take time to develop and implement.” Digital solutions are now being heavily encouraged by the State Library. Currently, only 12 per cent of Shire of Manjimup library users access digital resources. “Many of our borrowers have little or no experience in using digital devices,” Ms Dei-Tos said. “Others are living in areas where the Wi-Fi is patchy at best so digital access is not a viable option.” Ms Dei-Tos said despite the challenges posed by the changes, the shire library would continue to ensure that a high-quality service for borrowers remained the primary focus.