May 19, 2017
Libraries report adds nothing to knowledge
A year after the provincial government tried to close more than half the province’s libraries, accounting firm EY has completed a report which NDP Leader Earle McCurdy says contains more questions than answers.
“Government has spent a quarter of a million dollars to find out what we already know: that libraries in this province are vastly underfunded and that we need a solid plan to build for the future,” said McCurdy.
McCurdy spent much of last summer visiting the libraries slated for closure. He says that the conversations he had with people confirmed for him how important libraries are. In addition to providing access to books and other study materials, libraries are often an important public gathering place in a small town. In many cases, the library is the only source of access to high-speed internet for residents and tourists alike.
He says the EY report’s suggestion of downloading the costs of libraries to municipalities betrays a lack of familiarity with the rural realities of the province, noting that Newfoundland and Labrador’s towns are already struggling with federal wastewater requirements and slashed infrastructure commitments from the province.
“Let’s hope government will not cherry-pick from this report to justify proceeding with the original plan of depriving people of the libraries that are so vital to their small communities,” said McCurdy.
“Instead the Education Minister and his colleagues should seize the opportunity to accept their responsibilities and rise to the challenge of strengthening this important service.”