The NLLA is pleased no further cuts were announced for the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries’ operating budget and that the amount is back to its pre-2016 budget of $11.3 million. We are especially thrilled that Minister Kirby confirmed that the closing of 54 Public Libraries is officially off the table and is instead optimistic that new libraries will open.
This is a big relief to library workers and supporters throughout the province and beyond. From the moment the budget came down in 2016, there was an outpouring of support for libraries and a real fight to make sure something so unfathomable would not happen. The unmeasurable support and determination to prove the value of public libraries actually lead to a reprieve until a review could be completed.
Once the review was complete, an uncertainty for the Public Libraries has continued to linger, so the news that mass library closures is “shelved” is a fresh breath of air. The NLLA is so thankful to its members and the community at large for the magnificent advocacy work and the determination to save the Public Libraries.
Even with this good news, the NLLA is still concerned about the current level of funding. According to the EY (Ernst & Young LLP) Review, NLPL is 42% below the national per capita average, and is not enough to sustain the province’s library system. This review gave several recommendations on funding, and the NLLA remains confident that this, along with the other areas highlighted in the EY Review, are being investigated further by the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board (PILRB). The NLLA looks forward to assisting with consultations, planning and researching the ‘Way Forward’ for the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Library system.