The low Canadian dollar, HST and rising costs of materials are affecting the library budget at the University of Prince Edward Island says interim librarian Donald Moses.

The library has a $1 million acquisitions budget it uses to purchase new material, online journal subscriptions and books each year.

But Moses said the drop in the Canadian dollar has eaten into the library's buying power by as much as 30 per cent, given that most of the online journal subscriptions are priced in U.S. dollars. 

Moses said this follows a 10 per cent hit to the library's budget in 2013 when provincial HST started to be charged on electronic materials, which Moses says is the majority of what the library is purchasing these days.

And he says vendor prices for journals have been increasing on average up to five per cent a year.

Donald Moses

Interim librarian Donald Moses would like all library purchases in P.E.I. to be exempt from HST. (Submitted )

"We have optimized and trimmed as much as we can. This year we had to cancel materials. We've purchased less materials all to stay within our budget envelope," said Moses.

HST exemption needed 

The interim librarian said the library, which didn't receive a budget increase from the provincial government in 2015, made $100,000 in cancellations to online journals this year after use patterns were analysed.

It is not known if the budget will be increased this year.

"So if we don't get a budget increase, for instance, and we've got a five per cent increase on our costs you can see that over time it's just an ongoing erosion."

Moses said he wants all electronic purchases at UPEI and other public libraries in PEI to be HST free. But the provincial finance department spokesperson won't confirm if it's considering this. In an e-mail, the Finance said it will not discuss any details while in the process of developing the budget. 

If there is no change in the library's financial picture, Moses said it will mean some hard decisions.

"I think we've done a lot of what we can. We've tightened our belts as much as we can, I believe. It may mean further cancellations in the future."

Moses said the UPEI library is a provincial resource open to all Islanders to use. 

"We want to provide the best collection possible for our users, which includes the entire province."

With files from Laura Chapin.