BC Library Cuts Petition

Yann Martel

Provincial budget cuts to public libraries announced in Sept. 2009 prompted nearly 3,400 citizens to sign an online Think City petition calling for the restoration of library grants. With the support of Yann Martel and seven other Canadian authors, Think City fielded the petition between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31, 2009.

"You can't cut provincial library grants by 22 per cent without seeing a dramatic impact on library services," said Think City chair Neil Monckton. "With the help of eight prominent Canadian authors, 3,382 British Columbians signed our petition urging Premier Campbell to reject draconian cuts to BC's libraries."

"Libraries are the memories of a literate society," said Man Booker Prize winning author Yann Martel. "Without libraries, a literate society has no future because it can't pass on its knowledge, or amuse its children, for that matter."

In addition to Martel, authors Steven Galloway, Susan Juby, Chris Humphreys, Shaena Lambert, Mark Leiren-Young, Andreas Schroeder and Arthur Slade came out in support of Think City's campaign to save provincial library services. Vancouver West End MLA Spencer Herbert presented the final petition to Premier Campbell in the legislature on Nov. 5, 2009.

"By cutting core library services that have been publicly funded for 90 years, the BC Liberal government is attacking one of the cornerstones of democracy in this province," said Monckton. "The provincial government grants have been essential for funding local libraries in British Columbia since 1919, they pay for the provincial library network that allows all libraries in BC to share resources and provide services that community libraries would otherwise not be able to afford."

Funding for public libraries was a key priority identified in Think City's 2009 Citizen Budget survey of Vancouver residents. Over 92 per cent of those surveyed said they supported increasing or maintaining funding for civic libraries and 52 per cent said public libraries are a very important policy priority.

Provincial library grants support services such as interlibrary loans, online resources and subscriptions for magazines and newspapers, literacy programs, and the BC OneCard that allows borrowers access to all libraries in BC. The loss of 22 per cent of library grants will result in reduced hours, cuts in service, fewer acquisitions, fewer on-line resources and subscriptions, and reduced investment in current technology.