NEWS: Martel Opposes BC's Library Cuts

Yann MartelBy Think City Staff

Provincial budget cuts announced Sept. 1 will have dramatic consequences for public libraries according to Think City chair Neil Monckton.

Joined by author Yann Martel and seven other Canadian authors, Think City is urging citizens to sign a new petition online calling for the restoration of library grants.

"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. "Today, with the help of prominent Canadian authors, we are launching our online petition through Facebook and Twitter to encourage the public to visit and send a message to the Premier that BC's libraries matter."

"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."

Martel has also recorded a voice message to be broadcast to nearly 20,000 households in Vancouver asking people to sign Think City's online petition against the cuts to library grants. Well-known Canadian authors Steven Galloway, Susan Juby, Chris Humphreys, Shaena Lambert, Mark Leiren-Young, Andreas Schroeder, and Arthur Slade have also signed-on to support Think City's petition.

"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. Out of 1,754 people surveyed, 92.1 per cent said they supported increasing or maintaining funding for civic libraries and 51.5 per cent said that 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.

library cuts

Disgusting, hypocritical actions are revealing the Philistine-like nature of this government. Libraries, arts funding, schools, what's next? "Hearts starve as well as bodies."

The Premier is a hypocrite.

How is it possible that this premier pretends to a big supporter of "Literacy", at the while implementing large cuts to libraries and education? Unbelievable hypoctite!

Provincial Library Cuts

Again just pointing out that while library funding has been cut the government has committed to spending thousands of billions of dollars on building the new Port Mann Bridge and the South Fraser Freeway making it clear that Pavement not Public service or People is their priority. Need to turn that around and invest in our future since library funding leaves a lasting legacy while pavement just blights the landscape, harms the environment, and creates pollution harmful to health and worse.

Cuts to Community Literacy Supportive Infrastructure TOO!!

FYI, the Liberal government has also cut the toll free referral READ-line operated by Literacy BC, a provincial non-profit. The line offered a provincial referral service, meaning learners could call the line from anywhere in the province to be connected with a local literacy program. In addition to the READ-line cut, the Liberals have also eliminated 16 Regional Literacy Coordinator (RLC) positions, which were the other referral alternative to the READ-line. Both the READ-line and the RLCs positions were created after recommendations by the Auditor Generals 2008 report. The elimination of these two key referral tools means that BC's literacy infrastructure and coordination has returned back to the state deemed unacceptable only a year ago. Without these two key services, learners throughout the province are left on their own to connect with programs in their area. Navigating the literacy field without a guide will mean that many learners, intimidated by this process, will not be able to access programs or will be too intimidated to do so. We have all heard that federal transfer money will be used to sustain health and education programs in the province, but what they aren't telling us is that the money is to be used to support formal education systems such as K-12 and post secondary. Community programs and the people who use them are very different from formal learning structures. Individuals that access informal or community learning options often do so because formal learning options do not fit their needs. When writing to you local MP or the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development include your concerns about the lack of community literacy support!

library cuts

This is scary stuff. Add this to the cuts to Arts Councils and you have a picture of a government that is running scared. In the new creative economy, support for libraries and the arts is crucial. Fearful people cut the areas they feel no one will challenge. Lets show this government how powerful and effective the so-called "soft" community can be.

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