The council of Conception Bay, Newfoundland’s largest city, decided last week that a public library was an unnecessary expenditure. Or it didn’t (and it was all a big misunderstanding), depending on who you talk to.
Plans for the city’s new town hall building originally included space for a new library, since council had been promising to replace the current, “cluttered” library building for 20 years. However, Conception Bay’s mayor, Woodrow French, who “said he knows the value of a library” explained that there’s not enough cash in the $20 million building budget to include space for a library. A letter from the city indicated to the library board that the existing library would subsequently close.
The news of the closure was all a misunderstanding, though, says the mayor. It seems that the “the letter was either misinterpreted or poorly written,” and that the existing library will at least stay open. “We’re still committed to a library, [We’ve] always been committed to a library,” CBC quotes him as saying. Of course they are. That’s why they’ve been promising a new library building for two decades, and continue to do so.
Meanwhile in Toronto, the Toronto Public Library system has to come up with another $7.3 million in savings (in addition to the $9.7 million cuts they’ve already made) to meet Rob Ford’s 10% “bacon” budget cut. They’ve had plenty of suggestions (some crazier than others) from the library board, reports the Toronto Sun:
closing 38 of the city’s 98 branches, getting rid of all the computers, turning down the heat in the winter and the air conditioning in the summer, selling off its Yorkville branch, increasing advertising in library branches, getting corporate sponsorship for wireless Internet and examining the possibility of book sponsorship.
The library budget committee voted unanimously against closing library branches on Tuesday, and it looks as though savings will have to be found by reducing the hours of operation by 19444 hours.
I don’t live in Toronto, but I seem to recall Rob Ford saying “I will assure you that services will not be cut” when talking about his magical tax-savings plan before the election. I guess those 19444 hours of library operation don’t count as services. I mean, a place where people can educate themselves, access the internet, receive assistance with a job search, learn when to pick a turnip (true story), attend free lectures, receive help with homework or literacy skills, build a sense of community, review local history, or, you know, read is just bacon. Who wants those people populating a city anyway?