Friday, January 11, 2008

Regina Libraries Overfunded


Four years ago, a library task force recommended that three of Regina's nine libraries be closed. It noted that Regina was second highest in per capita library funding in Canada ($61, with Oshawa, ON first at $65) and that Regina spends $9 for materials per capita, second only to Richmond Hill, Ontario. The task force further said that the Dunlop Art Gallery (which cost $1000 per day) be axed. These changes were necessary just to keep the libraries from taking on further debt. Yet, none of this happened.

Friends of the Library bought time and promised to raise $10 million in private capital within five years. With a year to go, they're nowhere near that target and can't hope to reach it. So, the CTF wants the task force recommendations to finally be enacted. Further, library funding should be cut by 40%. If the task force is right, Regina will still have more libraries and library funding (per capita) than Winnipeg. It will also save $114 million by 2025, enough to offset the costs of the new wastewater management facility to be paid for by a 27% water rate hike.

In its 2007 report, the library board noted that although programming is up 26% over the past five years, program attendance is down 20%. Even though about $1 million will be spent on books in the next year, the average one of them will only be read three times annually.

A recent article noted that 31% of Canadians haven't read a single book in the past year, and the average prairie reader only reads 15 annually.

The 2004 task force recommendations make more sense than ever.

1 comment:

kathryn said...

The recent article noting that Canadians don't read is no reason to begin underfunding and closing libraries. That's like saying that Canadians don't wear seatbelts, so we should stop putting them in cars.

Better early intervention promoting literacy -- and better funding for such programs -- is the only way to ensure a literate society. And a literate society is lower in crime. Simple as that.

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