The NLLA has always been vocal in its support of the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Library system. As literacy rates in our province continue to rank among the lowest in our country, and as a difficult economic situation looms over the province, maintaining a strong public library system should be a priority of our provincial government, now, and in the future.
The NLLA would like to express its concern over Education Minister Dale Kirby’s decision to cease funding for the lease of the Torbay Public Library in its current location as well as its support for the efforts of the Town of Torbay in securing a new and permanent location for the library. The decision to cease funding for the library’s current location raises concerns, not only for the Torbay Public Library, and the services it provides to the people of Torbay and surrounding areas, but also for the future of public libraries in the province.
Today’s public library is a multi-service point that has a physical and online presence. The library can offer innovative programming that supports government initiatives, like KinderStart, and help address concerns with early and adult literacy. Libraries are well positioned to help increase literacy rates in this province. Internet access and reference help can assist new residents of Newfoundland find employment.
Tuesday’s CBC article highlighted efforts to ensure that the library remain an essential service point for the community. The Torbay Public Library Board describes the potential closure as a “huge loss to our community,” and is urging all Torbay residents to voice their concerns to their local MHA, the Minister of Education, and members of the Torbay Town Council.
The NLLA also recognizes the continued efforts of the Torbay Town Council to secure a new and permanent location for the library. We are encouraged by the value the town places in the continued presence of the library, and in reference to the 2014-15 Annual Report of the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board, we would like to remind the town of its stated commitment to “secure a “suitable alternate permanent location for the library.”
Given the recent announcement by the Minister of Finance regarding possible cuts of 30% over the next three years to public services, NLLA hopes the closure of the Torbay Public Library is not indicative of future funding for Newfoundland and Labrador public libraries. In a period of economic uncertainty, libraries have an essential role in supporting the community. Easy access to public libraries is key to helping our citizens thrive during difficult times.
The NLLA Executive have send letters to both the Minister of Education (view .PDF) and the Mayor of the Town of Torbay, Ralph Tapper, (view .PDF) in response to the closure of the Torbay Public Library.