The library board would like people to place bright yellow hangers on their doors that say “Dear Candidate: Public libraries are important to me, my family, and my community.”
The hope is that they will raise the issue with candidates while they’re campaigning door-to-door, asking whether they and their party will commit to increase core operating funding for libraries.
“In the past eight years, public libraries have received less than a one per cent increase to their core operating funding,” said Troy MacCulloch, chair of the regional library board. “All parties have promised to fix this, many reports have been written, but little has been accomplished. We need an increase in core funding, distributed fairly, and with a long-term vision.”
Without stable funding, he said branches will likely have to reduce the days and hours they’re open, along with using a smaller new materials budget. “It would affect a lot of people if we reduced the hours and the days. We’re really hoping the next government will take a look at this,” he said.
“It will make a marked difference in the services we can offer if we get the budgets back to the levels they’re supposed to be.”
Public libraries in Nova Scotia are funded by grants from the province and municipalities, while library boards must also acquire additional funding from other grants and donations in order to provide any additions to core services.
Funds are used to purchase both print and electronic materials and employ staff to develop services and programs. Library buildings are maintained by the municipalities.
“We can’t keep doing this year after year,” said MacCulloch. “We can’t forecast and plan properly, and that’s the struggle.”
Eric Stackhouse, chief librarian for the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, said libraries and services have been transitioned to learning and social community hubs, with a variety of experiences from reading to technology. He also noted that libraries have offered successive governments with innovative, collaborative ways to efficiently deliver services.
“Our goal is to work together for the success of the community, but to do so we need increased core funding, not one-time funds or grants, and a willingness to look at new approaches that involve government,” he said.
Door hangers are available at all branches of the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library or can be obtained by contacting the library board at 1-866-779-7761 or email@example.com.