Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Hands off the libraries council warned

Photo by MTSOfan

Libraries around the world are being shut or having their budgets severely cut, but according to Burnaby Coun. Nick Volkow, the lesson for this city is that every time there were cuts, those responsible were punished in the polls.

With books and reading on the decline, cash strapped cities have taken their austerity measures to libraries. City councils in England, Scotland and Wales have made severe cuts to their libraries. As a result, Volkow warned, those politicians involved were either de-listed by their parties or not voted back in.

"If you take a meat cleaver to the library budget, we will be paying the price at this table," said Volkow.

On this continent, Volkow pointed out, New York libraries are facing millions in cuts, which has sparked widespread protest.

Volkow was responding to the 2012 Burnaby Public Library Annual Report, which was tabled at council Monday night. The report highlighted the events and achievements of the city's libraries over the past year.

"Celebrating diversity and culture, learning for life and enhancing communities" informed the projects this past year, said BPL chair Sharon Freeman.

A speed-reads collection was launched in June of last year in response to the results of a survey, which suggested this was the most valued service of the library.

E-reader lending was also a big success this year, according to Freeman.

"We don't have to fundraise, except for one event a year, because of the support of  Burnaby council," said Coun. Anne Kang who sits on the library board. Kang spoke about camcorders and tripods now available for borrowing, which Freeman said was a way for the libraries to be a part of the new, more interactive, Internet age.

The library also embraced social media this year by being on Twitter and Facebook. Library websites are also available on mobile and tablet devices.

Mayor Derek Corrigan sang the praises of Burnaby libraries as, "one of the most inclusive institutions we have in our community."

The 2012 Annual Financial Plan for Burnaby shows library expenditures at just over $12-million or 3.2 per cent of all expenses for the city.

Do you still go to your local library? Why or why not? 


  1. Hello Jennifer,
    my family and I use our local VPL library, Dunbar branch, every week.
    We conveniently order books through their excellent website. I mostly read bestsellers and non-fiction service books such als "Macs for dummies."
    The kids borrow picture books and chapter books.
    From time to time, we borrow a movie.
    I don't know about Burnaby, but the VPL has an excellent selection including lots of bestsellers IN GERMAN, if you believe it!!
    As to financing, when I lived in Cologne, Germany, we had to pay an annual contribution of Euro 25 per adult to the library. That's not much, and it may be an additional way of funding the libraries?
    Katja from westsidebeat

  2. Thanks Katja, interesting! I know Burnaby also has a wide selection of books in other languages. I wonder if people would go for the small fee to keep funding libraries? Not sure.