At the recent Atlantic Provinces Library Association (APLA) Annual Conference in Halifax, librarians and library workers took the opportunity to decry the announcement by the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador that it will close 54 of the province’s 95 public libraries over the next two years.
APLA President, Suzanne van den Hoogen, had this to say about the pending closures: “The importance of public libraries cannot be overstated. They promote literacy by introducing young minds to the joys of reading and the acquisition of knowledge; they are an entry point into the world of lifelong learning; they are safe places for vulnerable members of the community, the young and the old, to engage in wholesome and fulfilling activities; they are meeting places where ideas are shared and plans that further individual and community goals are hatched; they are unique in their mission, providing irreplaceable services to their communities. In short, public libraries improve quality of life for those citizens who have ready access to them. There is no question that the human costs of these closures (to the 64 staff who will lose their jobs and the library patrons who will lose their services) will by far eclipse the projected million dollars in savings. We urge the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to reconsider. ”
APLA noted, that news of the planned closures has generated passionate reactions from individuals and organizations alike. NL author, Lisa Moore, has been particularly vocal on the issue, declaring in a May 17 article published by The Walrus that the closing of the libraries is nothing short of “an attack on writers, publishers, students – and culture.”
For his part, author Paul Butler (who lives in Corner Brook) told Morning Show host Bernice Hillier in a CBC interview broadcast on May 25 that, “It is almost impossible to imagine how you could do more damage while achieving less savings than closing 54 public libraries.”
On May 31, APLA hosted a “Save NL Public Libraries” rally and LOVE-IN during the conference and vowed to keep up the pressure. Library supporters inflated 54 balloons (one for each of the public library branches slated for closure) and also filled out postcards which will be mailed to Education Minister, Dale Kirby. A resolution was passed at the APLA Ordinary General Meeting of June 1 which commits the association to further advocacy efforts, in partnership with other interested groups, to stop the closures and to reverse the decision on the province’s book tax.
APLA also provided funding for NLLA President, Krista Godfrey, to attend the rally. NLLA appreciates the support of this regional library association.