The provincial government’s decision to close over half of our public library branches has received criticism, not just within Newfoundland and Labrador, but across the county. NLLA President, Amanda Tiller-Hackett, was interviewed on CTV’s Canada AM yesterday morning, expressing the association’s concerns over the closures and the impact they will have on local communities. The full interview is available here.
The cuts have also been criticized by Rick Mercer, originally from Newfoundland. “If you want to destroy rural Newfoundland and harm children, it’s an excellent start,” said Mercer of the closures. He also criticized Newfoundland’s introduction of a tax on books, “When you increase taxes on cigarettes, you raise money but the side effects is less people smoke. So when you are increasing taxes on books, you are accepting the fact that fewer books will be sold. And so it is an attack on literacy, there’s no other way to look at it.” You can listen to his full rant here. The Canadian Library Association (CLA) as well as the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) both issued statements urging the Government of Newfoundland to reconsider the cuts to public libraries.
Meanwhile, statistics released yesterday by Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries (NLPL) show that many of the libraries in rural areas slated to close are heavily used. CBC noted that “Fogo Island Central, for example, had more than 13,000 Wi-Fi sessions in 2015-2016. Roughly 2,500 people live on the island. The library in Lark Harbour, which is also closing, had more than 4,000 books borrowed, 3,856 computer sessions and 3,767 Wi-Fi sessions. The population is about 500. In Port au Port, where the library is located in a school, more than 17,000 materials were borrowed — in a town of roughly 600 residents.” More details including a full list of NLPL usage for the past two years is available here.
If you are opposed to the cuts to our province’s public library, check out the NLLA’s Take Action to express your opinion to Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, Dale Kirby and your local MHA.