Category Archives: Public Libraries

NLLA Disappointed but Unsurprised by Public’s Reaction to Library Consultation

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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 fashionThe Independent, Oct. 7, 2016
Dale Kirby re-evaluating library sessions after angry walkoutCBC News, Oct. 7, 2016
A national disgrace: Heated crowd walks out of public library consultationCBC News, Oct. 7, 2016
Library Association member questions validity of consultation processNor’Wester, Oct. 4, 2016

Province holding public roundtable consultations to review public library system

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Save NL Public LibrariesAfter 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:

schedule of public roundtable consultations

You are invited to participate in one of the public roundtable consultations

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 Comments on Library Closure Review: We Need to Address Chronic Underfunding

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NLLA President, Krista Godfrey

NLLA President, Krista Godfrey

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.

Public Library Closures Suspended

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Great news today as the government announced that they will be suspending the library closures. According to the announcement, “an external assessment that contemplates the full impact a library has on its community” and a steering committee will be formed to lead this review. We’re pleased by this move towards an informed and transparent assessment of the library system and look forward to positive outcomes.

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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.

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.