Category Archives: Public Libraries

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.

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.

APLA Holding a “Save NL Public Libraries” Rally During Halifax Conference

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save-our-libraries-fb-profile-pic-smallThe Atlantic Provinces Library Association (APLA) is showing support for our province’s libraries at a Newfoundland and Labrador Libraries Love-in during their Annual Conference being held in Halifax, NS. The rally will be held on Tuesday, May 31 at 5:00 pm in the Lunenberg Room at the Westin Nova Scotian.

The NL Provincial government’s controversial decision to implement a 10% tax on books and to close over half of the province’s public libraries has been met with criticism from library associations, media, authors and Canadians everywhere.

APLA writes “If there has ever been a time for concerted and unrelenting advocacy, surely this is it? We will share news of advocacy initiatives and actions thus far (by NLLA, the Newfoundland & Labrador Writers Federation, local library boards, etc.), take stock of APLA’s own contributions, and brainstorm ideas for further action. All that while CELEBRATING NL public libraries and their ongoing positive impact in their communities. Please join us. Many hands make light work!”

A big thanks to APLA for their support!

Cuts in NL covered by International Library Journal

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Library Journal, a trusted and respected publication for the international library community, has done a story on the NL Government’s decision to implement a 10% book tax and to substantially cut funding to the province’s public library system. Interviewed for the article were NLLA President, Amanda-Tiller Hackett, and Sandra Singh, CLA President and CEO of the Vancouver Public Library.

Tiller-Hackett said of provincial libraries, “They need to be open for enough hours to be of service to the community, they need to be staffed by qualified workers, and they need the money to run their programs and resources. Libraries are more than just buildings with books in them. I don’t think the Minister quite understands what a library is, what an effective library costs, what the function of a library is, and what library workers need to make a library a viable and successful community space.” Read the full article, “Newfoundland To Shutter More than Half its Libraries.”

OLA Hopes NL Government will reconsider Book Tax and Public Library Cuts

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OLAThe Ontario Library Association (OLA), the largest library association in Canada, has also written a letter to Dale Kirby, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, urging the Government to reconsider the implementation of a provincial book tax and cuts to public libraries in the province. OLA provides examples of ways that “investing in public libraries has proven to yield a measurable, positive return that has a significant cultural and economic impact on communities.” The full letter to Minister Kirby can be read here.

Media Coverage of Public Library Cuts Continues

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Out of the Fog Interview

Click to view video

This week, NLLA President, Amanda Tiller-Hackett, and Past-President, Catherine Lawton, were interviewed on Roger’s TV Out of the Fog about cuts to the province’s public library including the closure of 54 branches of NLPL. You can watch their interview here.

NLLA VP, Krista Godfrey was also spoke to Quill & Quire, the magazine of the Canadian book trade, for their article about the cuts. “We were shocked and dismayed at the extent of the closures,” says Krista Godfrey. “We are very concerned of the impact on a variety of programs, from children’s story time to outreach for new Canadians to Internet access for people looking for work.” Read more of the Quill & Quire article.

Crystal Rose interviewed by Western StarOn the west coast of the province, a previous President of NLLA spoke to local media about the impact the public library cuts will have on Western Newfoundland. Crystal Rose, NLLA web editor, was interviewed on CBC Radio’s West Coast Morning Show, and by Corner Brook’s local newspaper, The Western Star. Rose talked about the NLLA’s Save NL Public Libraries campaign and ways people can rally together to help support their public libraries, such as our Take Action form and our Facebook cover photo and profile pic.

You can also keep up to date on all the latest news regarding the cuts to the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries on our Save NL Public Libraries Facebook page.