Open letter Re: Ontario Library Service Funding

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The Hon. Michael Tibollo

Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport

Hearst Block, 9th Floor

900 Bay St.

Toronto, ON M7A 2A1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Dear Mr. Tibollo,

On behalf of the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians/l’Association canadienne des bibliothécaires en enseignement supérieur (CAPAL/ACBES) we are writing to express our deep concern over the devastating cuts being imposed on the Ontario Library Service. The budget slash of 50% to the operating budgets of both the Southern Ontario Library Service and Ontario Library Service North is devastating to all public libraries in Ontario, but will especially hurt small town libraries and those in First Nations communities.

Though base funding to individual libraries will continue, the Ontario Library Service provides  valuable support services that directly affect patrons’ ability to access resources and information. Specifically, Ontario Library Service North, which  previously provided postage reimbursement for book delivery to its 128 libraries, including those in remote northern communities, has had to end this service because it has lost half its operating budget. Things are no different in the Southern Ontario Library Service, which serves nearly 200 southern libraries, and has had to end interlibrary loan services. This has also resulted in a loss of 24 delivery driver jobs. Respectfully, with these service discontinuations, it is evident that neither the Southern Ontario Library Service nor the Ontario Library Service North are “arms-length agencies that have no involvement in the day-to-day operations of Ontario’s public libraries,” as asserted ; they are active and crucial components of the Ontario public libraries community and success.

Further, libraries are not just buildings for lending books; they are a core part of community life and their services are especially necessary in remote and isolated communities. They open a door to the world beyond one’s own by providing a wide range of resources. An attack on libraries damages the health of our towns, cities, municipalities and First Nations.

Libraries are also very cost-effective. Study after study has shown that a small investment in library services has a very significant financial multiplier economic effects in benefits to the surrounding area. In order to achieve these benefits, however, it is important to have libraries within easy reach – so that children, seniors, and the less advantaged can access their services no matter where they live. Cutting funding to the very service that facilitates access to library resources will hit hardest those who are most vulnerable. It will erode the ability of young people to gain the literacy and computer skills they will need to become full participants in society in the decades to come.

We urge the government of Ontario to reconsider these drastic budgetary measures which will, without a doubt, have an adverse impact on Ontarian communities for years to come. Please keep our libraries accessible for this and future generations.

 

Sincerely,

on behalf of the Board, Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians/l’Association canadienne des bibliothécaires en enseignement supérieur (CAPAL/ACBES)

 

Copies:

The Hon. Doug Ford,  Premier of Ontario

Andrea Horwath, MLA, Leader of the Opposition

Paul Miller, MLA, Critic for Tourism, Culture, and Sport

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