The provincial government has released the much anticipated report by EY outlining a number of recommendations for improving the public library system in Newfoundland and Labrador. The NLLA is currently reviewing the document in order to prepare a formal response. You can view/download the full report. Our association welcomes any comments or feedback on the report. Please contact our 2017-2018 NLLA President, Kate Shore.
Category Archives: Advocacy
On February 3, 2017 the Canadian Federation of Library Associations/Fédération canadienne des associations de bibliothèques (CFLA/FCAB) endorsed the American Library Association’s statement defending library core values and condemning recent events in their country. ALA President, Julie Todaro, responded to recent actions by the new administration and specifically addressed issues regarding access to information, discrimination and intellectual freedom, “We are shocked and dismayed by recent executive orders and other actions by the new administration, which stand in stark contrast to the core values of the American Library Association.”
Endorsing the ALA statement, CFLA/FCAB “champions values that include access to information, privacy, democracy, equity, diversity and inclusion, intellectual freedom, and social responsibility. Libraries are safe and inclusive spaces that build social capital and support discovery and creation. CFLA/FCAB and Canadian libraries stand together in unity with our American library colleagues in support of welcoming and inclusive communities.”
NLLA also endorses these statements and our core values. We stand together with our Canadian and American colleagues in support of a fair and just society. We stand together in support of access to information, privacy, diversity, equity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom. Our libraries are open to all and will remain safe and inclusive spaces.
This week, the Atlantic Provinces Library Association (APLA) released a statement criticizing Newfoundland and Labrador’s newly imposed 10% tax on books. In her January 25 letter to the Premier, APLA President, Suzanne van den Hoogen, wrote “on behalf of the approximately 400 library workers and library supporters who make up the Atlantic Provinces Library Association, I entreat you to rescind the tax on books.”
APLA echoed the NLLA’s concerns of how the tax will have a negative impact on students, low-income individuals and families, authors, publishers and booksellers in the province.
View the full letter from APLA.
The provincial government’s controversial new book tax came into effect January 1, adding an extra 10% tax on all books sold in the province, making Newfoundland and Labrador the only province in Canada to tax books.
Today, the NLLA released a statement which was also sent to Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, MHA Cathy Bennett, and to Premier Dwight Ball:
The Newfoundland and Labrador Library Association urges the provincial government to reinstate the HST Point of Sale Rebate on books purchased by individuals. Removing this rebate amounts to an increase of an extra 10% sales tax on books. This additional tax will provide little income for the province but will have lasting ramifications for the citizens of this province.
Newfoundland and Labrador has a notoriously low literacy rate, one of the lowest in Canada, and this tax is a further barrier to improving this rate. With the recent closure of Literacy NL in 2015 due to budget cuts, affordable access to books is essential in combating illiteracy and a tax on books is a step backwards. The provincial government must make education and literacy priorities for its citizens and an increased tax on books does not support such goals.
The impact on this tax will be most keenly felt by students and those with lower incomes. Text books are notoriously, sometimes prohibitively, expensive and the additional tax will prove difficult for a struggling student population. Literacy should not be considered a luxury, yet in these difficult economic times, this may become a reality for lower income families.
The book tax also hurts our provincial authors, publishers, and local independent booksellers. In a time of economic crisis, we need to support our local businesses and creative artists rather than impede them. In a province so well known for its storytelling heritage, and with many award winning authors, it is disheartening that the government is making it more difficult for citizens to access their literary heritage.
No other province has recognized any benefit in placing a tax on books and literacy. Books are resources that improve the lives of our citizens. Moreover, literate and educated citizens are essential for the creation of a successful and thriving economy. The NLLA questions how the government can justify becoming the first province in Canada to apply a provincial tax to books when it is clear that there are so many negative consequences? We strongly urge you to repeal this book tax for the benefit of all citizens in Newfoundland and Labrador.
NLLA President, Krista Godfrey, is available to speak with media.
The province’s book tax in the news:
- MUN students say new NL book tax hitting them hard (CBC, Jan. 16, 2017)
- Author releases newest work for free to avoid NL’s new book tax (CBC, Jan. 15, 2017)
- Bookstore Owner Meets with Government on Book Tax (VOCM, Jan 8, 2017)
- Book tax annoying for readers, ‘crushing’ for independent store owner (CBC, Jan 3, 2017)
NLLA was initially pleased that the provincial government kept its promise to consult the public, and that our association was contacted directly by EY, the company hired to conduct the review. Members of NLLA will be meeting with the reviewers in locations across the province this month.
Although we strongly believe in the importance of public consultation and encouraged the public to participate in one of the roundtable sessions and the online survey, we had concerns about the process that the province outlined in its September 30 announcement. NLLA member, Crystal Rose, spoke with media on October 4th, questioning the validity of the consultation process and outlining some of the association’s chief concerns. We were dismayed that there was little advance notice for the public sessions. With less than a week’s notice before the first sessions, we question how the review can gather comprehensive data regarding the proposed library closures.
NLLA is also concerned that none of the libraries slated for possible closure is included on the list of locations for consultation. We strongly urge the reviewers to go directly to the communities that would be affected by the proposed closures, in addition to the ten scheduled public roundtable sessions.
Furthermore, we are gravely concerned by the lack of library representation on the steering committee to whom the consultants will deliver their review. There are no individuals outside of the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board, the body who originally suggested that the best way to deal with the budget deficit was to close 54 libraries, or outside of Provincial government on the steering committee. There are no members of the committee who currently work in public libraries, and no representatives from the province’s library association. There are few librarians and no library staff in the group. It is essential that the views and concerns of librarians and library workers be addressed in the review process.
NLLA was unsurprised by the negative public reaction to the recent roundtable consultation session held in St. John’s this past Thursday evening. Significantly underestimating the number of people who would attend and using a consulting firm to control the discussion with a rigid question and answer format has left the people of Newfoundland and Labrador with the impression that the provincial government is not fully committed to a truly consultative process.
We believe that a review of our province’s public library system is an important task and we strongly encourage the reviewers to widely consult all those who will be affected by the decisions and outcomes of this review.
News coverage of the province’s library consultation process
Government’s library review implodes in spectacular fashion – The Independent, Oct. 7, 2016
Dale Kirby re-evaluating library sessions after angry walkout – CBC News, Oct. 7, 2016
A national disgrace: Heated crowd walks out of public library consultation – CBC News, Oct. 7, 2016
Library Association member questions validity of consultation process – Nor’Wester, Oct. 4, 2016
After much media coverage and public outcry at the proposed closure of 54 branches of the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries in April, the provincial government announced in June that they would suspend the library closures pending “an external assessment that contemplates the full impact a library has on its community.”
NLLA President, Krista Godfrey, spoke to media in July commending the decision, “We’ve had a lot of feedback from communities, they’ve been very upset, kind of blindsided by this decision, so I think this will give them a chance to actually have their voice heard, which is excellent,” but also cautioned that it’s vital to ensure the committee conducting the review looks at individual libraries to make informed decisions if they move ahead with closing any of the locations. “One of the things I’m hoping will come out in this review is how underfunded this system is and will show that in order to provide the best system, we need to address the chronic underfunding that has happened,” said Godfrey.
Now, the public are invited to participate in the province’s review of the provincial public library system. Public roundtable consultations will run from October 5 to November 2, and will consist of ten public roundtable sessions, as well as an online surveys and written submissions. The roundtable sessions will take place in Bay Roberts, St. John’s, Marystown, Clarenville, Springdale, Grand Falls-Windsor, Twillingate, Rocky Harbour, Stephenville, and Labrador City:
In addition, the NLLA strongly encourages the public to submit your views through the provincial government’s online survey, or in writing using the library system review – public consultation online response form. Submissions will be accepted until November 4, 2016. Now is your chance to tell the province how much you value and use your public libraries!
NLLA President, Krista Godfrey, spoke to CBC today about the provincial government’s announcement that it would be suspending the public library closures until a review can be done. Godfrey told CBC, “The best plan would have been to make an informed decision and have a transparent process, and obviously that’s not what happened to begin with, but better to realize that a mistake was made.”
“We’ve had a lot of feedback from communities, they’ve been very upset, kind of blindsided by this decision, so I think this will give them a chance to actually have their voice heard, which is excellent.” CBC reported that Godfrey said it’s vital now to ensure the committee conducting the review looks at individual libraries to make informed decisions if they move ahead with closing any of the locations.
“Libraries are great equalizers, they are part of people’s lives from birth to death,” she said.
“One of the things I’m hoping will come out in this review is how underfunded this system is and will show that in order to provide the best system, we need to address the chronic underfunding that has happened.”
Read the full CBC article.