As you’ve heard, 54 libraries in NL — 20 of which in schools — were on the chopping block as of budget 2016-17. 54 would be more than half of our libraries, all to save a mere million. The infographic below breaks it down:
Today, NL’s Minister of Education Dale Kirby has requested those overseeing the “restructuring” of the province’s library system hold off for now, until “a complete organizational and service review of libraries is conducted.” In a press release, he said, “We do have to make tough choices, but we are also open to listening to residents.”
“We have heard from very strong voices about the future of our libraries and we feel that before moving forward with any closures we should have an external assessment that contemplates the full impact a library has on its community. We still contend that we need to improve library services to meet the changing needs of users.”
He said that at the end of this review, “we want to have a clear and transparent overview of our library system to inform the next steps in our decision-making process.”
A steering committee will be formed including members from the Provincial Government and Provincial Information and Library Resources Board.
Calvin Taylor, Chair of the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board says he is pleased to work with the Provincial Government to help conduct a review of the provincial library system. “This approach will provide a complete and full assessment of our resources, strengths, and areas that need improvement [and] help lead us to a better overall system for library users.”
NDP Leader Earle McCurdy says a government announcement regarding provincial libraries today is an admission that the people of the province have been right all along.
“By stopping the closures,” McCurdy said, “the Education Minister is admitting he made a bad decision. The steering committee should include people who weren’t involved in the earlier decision to close the libraries – that might give the impression panel members are biased. Where are the writers, the users, the librarians?”
“And I’d be even happier if this government took the trouble to properly study and consult before taking destructive action. No minister worth his salt would have allowed this decision to be made,” McCurdy says.
The resulting report will provide an overview of the current state of the library system and will be used to assist the Provincial Government with its final decisions on how to “restructure” the province’s library system. Details of the consultation process will be released in the coming weeks.