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Library cuts could create inequities: CEO

Petitions at Timmins Public Library branches ask government to reverse cuts
2019-05-29 Carole-ann Churcher MH
Timmins Public Library CEO Carole-Ann Churcher is encouraging everyone to sign a petition asking the government to reverse its cuts to Ontario Library Service agencies. Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday

The Timmins Public Library is making it easy for people to show their support for the library. 

Petitions are available at the main branch on Second Avenue and at the South Porcupine branch for people to sign. It's calling for the provincial government to reinstate funding for the Ontario Library Service (OLS) north and south, and to maintain base funding for public libraries.

The 2019 provincial budget cut the budget for the services by 50 per cent. 

According to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), five of the 11 full-time employees at OLS-North have received layoff notices, with a sixth person seeing their position downgraded to part-time.

Timmins Public Library CEO Carole-Ann Churcher said the OLS supports libraries. 

According to the petition, the agencies support interlibrary loans, training for staff and board members, bulk purchasing, programming, technological supports, shared ebook collections, and a shared catalogue database. 

In Timmins, for example, she explained they're part of a French, large-print rotating book pool.

"French, large-print books, there’s not that many out there so once you buy 10, then people go through them really quickly. When you’re part of a pool, we exchange them every three to four months so that they go from library to library, it’s a savings and they facilitate those types of pools,” she said.

In this area, she said said Canada Post was used to move books and they'd receive a postage reimbursement. 

That funding, she said, is gone.

“That means each library is stuck to decide can they download that cost onto their library,” she said.

With different towns potentially offering different levels of service, she said it will create inequities.

“As it is now, everyone participates and it’s fair,” she said.

Last year at the Timmins Public Library there were 13,691 active library card holders. 

There was a total of 112,050 items checked out. That includes 73,438 book check outs, and 16,452 digital check outs. 

The branches also offer access to computers, and a variety of programs. 

For Churcher, protecting libraries is important because it's one of the last places she says is truly public. 

"It’s not the place where you want to start cutting, it’s so important across the board. And if they start cutting now, we’re afraid of future cuts as well that would prevent us from doing the job that we’re here to do, which is serve the people, and provide information, entertainment, technology," she said.

While there is an online petition circulating as well, she noted only the ones that are actually signed in person can be submitted in the legislature.

To show your support, they'll be at both Timmins branches for the rest of this week, then Churcher will be sending them to the MPP presenting them at Queen's Park.

Maija Hoggett

About the Author: Maija Hoggett

Maija Hoggett is an experienced journalist who covers Timmins and area
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