Category Archives: Literacy

Atlantic Provinces Library Association Supports Repeal of NL’s Book Tax

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APLAThis 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.

NLLA Urges Provincial Government to Repeal Book Tax

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book taxThe 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:

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.

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

NLLA Canadian Library Month Winner!

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The Newfoundland and Labrador Library Association is pleased to announce that Kevin Sharpe (age 14), of Pearce Junior High School in Burin Bay Arm, is the winner of our Canadian Library Month Libraries Inspire contest! Kevin has won a $25 Chapter’s gift card and the library of his choice, Pearce Junior High School’s library, has won $1000 worth of books, generously donated by Library Services Centre!

Kevin’s favorite book is Eragon by Christopher Paolini.

It inspires him because:

“It’s about someone who is just ordinary at the start, and gets thrust into an extraordinary world of adventure. It inspires me since it reminds me that no matter how ordinary things may seem, there is something special in everyone.”

Canadian Library Month: Libraries Inspire Contest

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cla-LibraryMonth-banner-web-e-v1-300x158October is Canadian Library Month and the theme for 2014 is “Libraries Inspire”! Celebrate Canadian Library Month with us.

The NLLA along with our sponsor, the Library Services Centre (LSC), are holding a contest where you could win $1000 worth of books for a library in Newfoundland & Labrador!

We want to know how libraries inspire; tell us your favourite book and why it inspires you. If your entry is selected, the school or public library of your choice will win $1000 worth of books from LSC (and there’s a prize for you, too!).

There are two ways to enter:

1. Complete our online entry form
2. Download an english or french entry form and mail it to: NLLA, CLM contest, PO Box 23192, Churchill Square, St. John’s, NL, A1B 4J9

The winner will be chosen from all the entries received by November 30, 2014.

You can also download a bilingual promo sheet with contest details. To find out more about how libraries are celebrating Canadian Library Month, and for a free library tool kit to promote CLM in your library, visit:


NLLA 2013 Poetry Contest Winners!

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Prizes for the contest winners

Prizes for the contest winners

This morning, NLPL Collections Librarian, Jewel Counsens, was interviewed live on CBC Radio’s St. John’s Morning Show to announce the winners of NLLA’s annual poetry contest for Canadian Library Month.

Ms. Counsens read the winning entries by students Danika Hodder (Mrs. Boyde’s grade 1 class at Eric G. Lambert School, Churchill Falls), Dillon Burden (Ms. Hancock’s grade 2 class at James Cook Memorial School, Cook’s Harbour), Paris Keats (Ms. Butler’s grade 5 class at Centreville Academy in Centreville),  Abigail MacLeod (Mrs. Stapleton’s grade 7 class at Sacred Heart Academy, Marystown) and Nicholas Power (Mrs. Stapleton’s grade 7 class at Sacred Heart Academy, Marystown).

Listen to the podcast to hear their terrific limericks! Or read them on our facebook page.

Al l five students win books generously donated by: Creative Publishing, Breakwater Books, Saunders Book Co., Library Services Centre, Raincoast Books and Baker & Taylor/YBP.

This year, we received over 200 entries from more than 15 schools across the province.

Thanks to this year’s Canadian Library Month committee members: Lorraine Jackson, Amanda Power and Beth Maddigan, and special thanks to Jewel Counsens for getting up early to do the radio show!

Canadian Library Month Limericks to be Featured on CBC Morning Show

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Tune into the CBC St. John’s Morning Show bright and early (6:45), Friday November 1 to hear the winning entries in our annual poetry contest.  Special thanks to Jewel Cousens from Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries for resuming her broadcasting duties.

The Re-birth of the Stupid Newfie

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Fantastic Post from Jeff-Rose Martland

Our 2012 Poetry Contest for Canadian Library Month!

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 October is Canadian Library Month! This year’s theme is “Libraries Connect”.

The NLLA distributed Canadian Library Month posters and bookmarks to schools and public libraries in the province and sponsored a province wide Haiku Poetry Contest. We received over 550 entries from students from kindergarten to grade 12 who composed haikus inspired by the theme” Libraries Connect”. A haiku is a form of traditional Japanese poetry that, when composed in English, typically consists of three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.

Checkout the winning poems!

K-4 Winner: Haley Peddle, Grade 3 (Southwest Arm Academy)

Imagine the words
Let the letters come alive
Read a book and see

Most likely to be a librarian: Morgan Bennett, Grade 4 (C.C. Loughlin)

I respect my books
It is a new adventure
Please respect the books

Honourable Mention: Youngest participant Mollie Walsh, Grade 2 (Fatima Academy)

I can read a book
Good book, bad book, many books
You will learn a lot

5-8 Winner: Andrew Antle, Grade 7 (G.C. Rowe)

I lay on the shelf
As confident as a king,
Waiting to be read

9-12 Winner: Gregory Lacosta, Grade 9 (G.C. Rowe)

If books were heroes
Bad grammar should keep away
Books are here to stay