Category Archives: Advocacy

Support your Library

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Wondering how to support your library? We’ve put together a few resources to get you started!

Already supporting your library? Let us know what you’re doing!

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Book & Periodical Council Says Book Tax & Library Cuts will Hurt the People of NL

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Book and Periodical Council Canada’s Book and Periodical Council (BPC) has issued a statement urging the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to abolish the new 10% sales tax on books and find ways to keep all of the province’s public libraries open. In a letter to Premier Ball, BPC says they believe that the combination of these two actions will hurt more than help people in the province.

BPC says:

“Our members expect the following effects:

  • a decline in revenue for booksellers, publishers and authors
  • a decline in the number of books published in the province
  • the loss of $1 million in annual funding for the library board
  • the loss of 64 library jobs
  • the reduction of access to books and libraries for children and seniors
  • the denial of public access to libraries and the Internet in rural areas
  • the persistence of illiteracy among poorer and more isolated citizens

The Book and Periodical Council is the umbrella organization for Canadian associations that are or whose members are primarily involved with the writing, editing, translating, publishing, producing, distributing, lending, marketing, reading and selling of written words. Their members represent approximately 6,000 individuals and 5,500 firms and institutions.

The 10% book tax is set to come into effect on July 1, 2016, and the sales tax on most books will rise to 15% on January 1, 2017, which will make Newfoundland the first province in Canada to tax books.

Open Letter from APLA Regarding New 10% Tax on Books

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book taxThe announcement that the Newfoundland & Labrador Government will be implementing a 10% provincial book tax, making us set to become the first province in Canada to tax books on July 1, has been met by criticism from authors, publishers, retailers, libraries, educators and other supporters of literacy. On June 20, the Atlantic Provinces Library Association (APLA), added its voice, sending a letter to the Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador urging him to reconsider.

Dear Premier:

This is the second time I write to you in a matter of weeks. The first letter was prompted by the announcement of the phased closure of 54 public libraries in Newfoundland & Labrador, a decision that we dare to hope is being revisited. I am now writing, at the request of the APLA Membership, with regards to the new 10% tax on books to be imposed beginning July 1, 2016.

The decision on the part of your government to tax reading can only be viewed as a misguided policy formulated in a desperate attempt to balance a budget. That the new tax on books, which will make reading material unaffordable for many residents of your province, is to be followed by the closure of more than half of the province’s public libraries is a very real threat to the future economic health of the province. In a world that requires more highly-educated and skilled workers than ever before, placing the tools of learning out of reach is a recipe for disaster. And contrary to popular opinion, everything is not freely available online, nor do all people have access to computers and the Internet.

Everyone will be affected by the imposition of this tax – the writers, the publishers, the booksellers, and the readers (including students). The Newfoundland book industry will suffer as fewer Newfoundland books are published and sold and therefore fewer read. Education and literacy will also suffer as all reading materials become more expensive.

Newfoundland has the singular distinction of producing more fine writers per capita than any other province in Canada. Wayne Johnston, Kathleen Winter, Michael Crummey, Lisa Moore, Joan Clark, Anne Hart, Rex Murphy, Gwynne Dyer, and Donna Morrissey, to name a few, are known across the country. They bring positive attention to Newfoundland & Labrador in the same measure as they themselves are treasured by reading and thinking Canadians everywhere. They tell the stories of a unique land and people, such that they make Canadians from all parts of the country want to visit St. John’s and Ferryland, Cooney Arm and Ragged Rock, Gander and Corner Brook, and everything in between. They are your best ambassadors. Everything should be done to ensure the sustainability and continued dynamism of the book industry in the province such that your stories will continue to be told and widely-disseminated.

Rick Mercer, with his usual panache, said it best when in a rant, he pointed to taxation as a tool of government to curb undesirable behaviours, using taxes on cigarettes and smoking as an example. The message is clear: the unintended consequence of taxing books is to curb reading, which, unlike smoking, is a very desirable behaviour that benefits both the individual and society as a whole. Mercer went on to say that “…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.”

I have no doubt reiterated arguments that you have heard already about the negative impacts of a tax on books, but that makes them no less true. On behalf of the approximately 400 library workers and library supporters who make up the Atlantic Provinces Library Association, I entreat you to reconsider your decision.

Sincerely,
Suzanne van den Hoogen
APLA President 2016-17
cc: Members of the House of Assembly

NLLA Supports Public Library Information Pickets

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CUPE and NLLA members outside A.C. Hunter Public Library

CUPE and NLLA members outside A.C. Hunter Public Library

Earlier today, CUPE Local 2329 organized demonstrations at six libraries in the province to protest drastic provincial budget cuts including the closure of more than half of the province’s public libraries. Demonstrations were held at Corner Brook Public Library, Kindale Public Library in Stephenville, Harmsworth Public Library in Grand Falls-Windsor, A.C. Hunter Public Library in St. John’s, Mount Pearl Public Library, and Labrador City Public Library. Newfoundland and Labrador Public Library workers handed out pamphlets and buttons that read “Premier Ball: Closing Libraries is just like burning books!”

Many library users stopped to show their support for libraries and to take buttons, including NDP leader Earle McCurdy.

Closing Libraries is just like burning books!

NDP Leader, Earle McCurdy, showing support for newfoundland and Labrador public libraries

NDP Leader, Earle McCurdy, showing support for libraries

Library workers at A.C Hunter Public Library

Library workers at A.C Hunter Public Library

Library workers distributing buttons & pamphlets at A.C Hunter Public Library

Library workers distributing buttons & pamphlets

CUPE worker, Catherine Hynes, at Corner Brook Public Library

CUPE worker, Catherine Hynes, at Corner Brook Public Library

NLPL workers distributing buttons & pamphlets in Corner Brook

NLPL workers distributing buttons & pamphlets in Corner Brook

Some of the facts being distributed by CUPE included:

  • “54 libraries to close…to save less than Ed Martin’s severance package”
  • “Savings per branch a paltry $18,500”
  • “Are the people of Fogo Island and the 53 other communities that are losing their libraries worth $18,500 a year?

CUPE and NLLA encourage library supporters in this province to contact Education Minister Dale Kirby and let your voice be heard:

Telephone: 709-729-5040
Email: dalekirby@gov.nl.ca
Twitter: @DaleGKirby
Facebook: Dale.Kirby

 

Public Library Workers Holding Information Pickets Across NL Today

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CUPE Local 2329 has organized demonstrations at six libraries in the province today to protest drastic provincial budget cuts including the closure of more than half of the province’s public libraries.

Demonstrations will be held at the following locations today:

  • Corner Brook Public Library, from 12-1:30 p.m.
  • Kindale Public Library in Stephenville, from 12-1 p.m.
  • Harmsworth Public Library in Grand Falls-Windsor, from 12:30-1:30 p.m.
  • A.C. Hunter Public Library in St. John’s, from 1-2 p.m.
  • Mount Pearl Public Library, from 12:30-1:30 p.m.
  • Labrador City Public Library, from 1-2 p.m.

Public library workers will be giving out stickers and buttons during the Information Pickets. NLLA encourages all library supporters to attend.

APLA Responds to the Hon. Dale Kirby

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APLALast month, the Atlantic Provinces Library Association (APLA), submitted a letter to the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as the Members of the House of Assembly, urging them to reconsider the closure of over half of the province’s public libraries. They received a response from Education Minister Dale Kirby on the Premier’s behalf:

“As a result of the province’s current fiscal situation, many difficult decisions had to be made with a focus on long-term fiscal sustainability. With the implementation of the regional library model, the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board’s budget will be reduced by just over $1 million, with approximately $652,000 being reinvested to enhance current services.

The regional library model implementation will occur over a two-year period resulting in 41 libraries remaining across the province and over 85 percent of residents being within a 30 minute drive to the nearest library. There will be reinvestments into these 41 libraries for necessary capital improvements, additional library materials and program offerings; enhancements to the eBooks and books-by-mail services; and implementation of a minimum service standard and operating hours of no less than 30 hours per week. There will also be no change to the current library materials budget so that funding may be reinvested across the remaining libraries.

We understand that these are significant changes, but we feel that once the regional library model is fully implemented we will have a better resourced and effective library model for all residents.”

On June 10, APLA President, Suzanne van den Hoogen, responded with the following rebuttal, expressing disappointment with the Minister’s letter as well as remarks made to the press:

Dear Mr. Kirby:

Thank you for your email of May 16th, responding on behalf of Premier Ball to my letter concerning the projected closure of more than half of Newfoundland and Labrador public libraries. You will understand that the APLA membership was disappointed with your response to our expressed concerns. A resolution was carried at our Ordinary General Meeting, held June 1st in Halifax, NS tasking me to respond to your email. I also wish to comment on remarks to the press made at the time of the announcement.

You state in your email that the new regional library system, once it is fully implemented, will mean “a better resourced and effective library model for all residents.” You preface that by stating, “There will be reinvestments into these [remaining] 41 libraries for necessary capital improvements, additional library materials and program offerings; enhancements to the eBooks and books-by-mail services; and implementation of a minimum service standard and operating hours of no less than 30 per week.”

The first and most obvious point is that the money to be reinvested is insufficient to do all that is promised. The inadequacy of this proposal ($652,000) becomes abundantly clear when the money is divided across the 41 libraries. At $15,902 per library, the money is barely enough to add a part-time staff person in each of the libraries (which will now be expected to serve a larger catchment area), let alone invest in capital improvements or additional library materials.

The second observation is that whatever funds remain once the 41 remaining libraries have received their share, the amount will be insufficient to enhance ebook and books-by-mail services in any meaningful way. As library workers, we are very aware that these services are expensive to deliver and the cost per transaction high. Furthermore, these “enhancements” will in no measure compensate for the physical library and the face-to-face service that is being lost in 54 communities.

A CBC report of April 27th quoted you as saying that the targeted libraries have low usage levels. It stands to reason that small libraries in small communities will have low usage when compared to those in larger centres (particularly if lending statistics are the only assessment measure applied). But low usage (if indeed we can agree on a definition of “low”) does not necessarily mean low value. Stories abound of highly successful people (artists, business people, educators, health professionals, politicians) having been introduced to the world of books, reading and knowledge through the services of a bookmobile that visited their isolated community once a month, or of a small community library that, under-resourced as it was, provided a window on the world for a young person from a home with no books. That is to say, the introduction to the world of learning – and a stepladder to success – was made possible because the service came to the child and not the other way around. Even a small inadequately-resourced library will have more impact than one that is just slightly better stocked but miles away. People who do not read will not travel 30 minutes to get to a library, but a child of parents who do not read is likely to visit the local library in the ordinary course of living in a small community, and will be exposed to riches previously unknown to them.

The CBC also reports you as saying that, “It was certainly unknown to me at the time [that you criticized the previous government for wanting to close libraries] that the public libraries board themselves were advocating for government to either increase investment or to close some of these libraries that had very limited hours of service.” I suspect the Board was hoping for more money, or at least that all of the money saved through closures would be reinvested in the system. As it is, and as costs are rising, one million dollars are being skimmed off the top.

We understand that these are difficult economic times for Newfoundland and Labrador. But while this is the reality throughout the region, other jurisdictions have recognized the value of public libraries (to intellectual, mental and spiritual health) by investing in them. The new Halifax Public Library has more than proved the wisdom of the vision that built it. And the Government of New Brunswick has recently announced an additional $900,000 annually to open select public libraries on Sundays for the first time ever in that province. We submit that closing public libraries is not a “solution” that will bring long-term prosperity to the province, or even a fighting chance for individual citizens, and we implore the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to reconsider its decision.

Sincerely,
Suzanne van den Hoogen
APLA President 2016-17

If you agree that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should reconsider the closure of over half of the province’s public libraries, please like and share our Save NL Public Libraries facebook page, download our “Save NL Public Libraries” Facebook Cover Photo & Profile Pic, or complete our Take Action to save our Public Libraries! form.

Atlantic Provinces Library Workers Rally for NL Public Libraries

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Library supporters paraded with 54 balloons, one for each of the NLPL branches scheduled to close

Library supporters paraded with 54 balloons, one for each of the NLPL branches scheduled to close

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.

Save NL Public Libraries postcards addressed to the NL Minister of Education, Dale Kirby

Attendees filled out postcards addressed to the NL Minister of Education

Former APLA President Jocelyne Thompson addressing conference attendees at the rally

Former APLA President Jocelyne Thompson addressing conference attendees at the rally

CHLA Urges NL Government to Reconsider Library Closures & Library Funding

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Canada_Health_Libraries_AssociationThe Canadian Health Libraries Association joins the list of associations who have written to the NL government in support of the public libraries. They are particularly concerned with the impact of the closures on health literacy:

In addition to the effects these closures will have on general literacy and community services, closing 54 libraries will also have a negative impact on the health literacy of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), particularly in rural communities, since public libraries are important providers of consumer health information both in print and online.

Memorial University Libraries Urges Kirby to Meet with NLLA

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MUN logoInterim University Librarian, Louise White, released a letter today to Premier Dwight Ball on behalf of Memorial University Libraries. White wrote “It is time to focus attention on a renewed dialogue between government, specifically Minister Kirby, and those who have devoted their professional lives to libraries, reading, information literacy and community development.”

She went on to question the lack of consultation that seems to have gone into the recent budgetary decisions. “There is much at risk when decisions such as the closure of libraries and the taxation of books are made without a rigorous consultation process.” You can read Memorial University Libraries full letter here.

On May 24, the NLLA sent a letter to Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, Dale Kirby, requesting a meeting to address questions that have been raised concerning the planned closure of 54 branches of the NLPL and are awaiting a response.

2 More Library Associations Oppose Province’s Public Library Cuts

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Both the Manitoba Library Association and the Yukon Library Association have both released statements urging the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to reconsider its decision to cut funding to the province’s public libraries. They join eight other associations (CLA, BCLA, BCLTA, APLA, CAPAL, CAUT, ABPQ, OLA) as well as the  Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) at Western University, who have also voiced criticism of the budget cuts resulting in the closure of 54 public libraries as well as the implementation of a 10% book tax.

The Yukon Library Association noted the adverts effect the cuts will have on rural communities, “In Yukon, as in Newfoundland and Labrador, our libraries are often the only place where children can hang out after school, where a young parent can meet other parents, where newcomers can find out about housing and employment options, and where an elder can get help opening an email attachment. For some citizens, libraries are the only way to access the Internet, to apply for jobs, to file taxes, to fill out government forms, and to study by distance. Many of us take for granted the access to instant information available via smartphones, tablets, and home computers. Small, remote libraries are often the only point of access that many people have in an increasingly digital world.” Read the full letter.

The Manitoba Library Association noted “Public libraries are open and accessible community hubs with a focus on partnerships, creativity, learning and development of all citizens. Libraries are an integral part of the cultural and creative industries, and play an important role in ensuring the economic and social development of our communities.” You can visit their website to view their statement.

The NLLA appreciated the support it has received nation wide.