Charlene Elgee, Library Manager at Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Secretary of Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association Board of Directors attended this week's meeting of the OPL Board.
So have you heard the one about the public library being asked to cut 10% of its budget? Yes, we all have and far too many times to count but, here we are, at City Hall again being told just what that will mean: close 10 community branch libraries, cut hours in all community branches one day per week, cut the collections budget. Every time we go through one of these exercises, the message to the politicians is loud and clear: libraries are valued, libraries are needed. Lori Nash from the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library brought that message to the table at the meeting on Monday night, as did an articulate user of one of those community branches in North Gower, as did most of the members of the Board.
The Library Board and OPL staff take great pride in the fact that the OPL’s circulation has risen by 45% since amalgamation, that there are strong community programs such as the newcomer services provided in conjunction with Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s integration workers, that Ottawa citizens see it as their second most valuable city service (ok, so the firemen took precedence), that the OPL is the information source for small businesses in our city. And as if that's not enough, it's all being done in substandard physical space with substandard per capita financing!
Yes, I know I'm preaching to the converted in this forum. But knowing the value of libraries doesn't mean we can allow ourselves to be complacent or silent. Keep an eye on the OPL Board’s website for further developments as the City budget process is played out over the next month. Your voice may be needed!!