This deputation was given to City Council on January 31.
Good evening, Mayor Nuttall and members of Council,
I am here to ask that you reconsider last week’s amendment to the 2024 Business Plan and Budget which removed 78,387 dollars from the budget of the Barrie Public Library and to approve the Library’s original request.
In the Library’s budget presentation and subsequent discussions, it was made clear that the library had carved out that 78,000 from what would have ideally been put towards the Libraries collection.
In that night’s Q and A Deputy Mayor Thomson said and I quote “I’m actually disappointed to hear that you’re looking to use that money… and you're reducing the material purchases, which is your core function... that’s the job of the library.” I very much shared this disappointment though as a downtown resident and library patron I understood the library’s urgent need to redirect funds towards a pilot project for social services at the downtown branch.
Libraries have a long history as a safe space for self study, learning and socializing. But they should not have to make the decision to fund public safety over public resources.
With the hope that the library could be provided with more books, Councillor Harris asked if the library had applied for grants towards this pilot project. So I was overjoyed when it appeared that funding from the county might support this pilot project instead, and I assumed that council would be as well, with the library funds going back towards their core services where they belong!
In fact, at General Committee last week, Mayor Nuttall said “I want to provide more money for materials, for programming for things that are going to have an impact for children and families," and later in a CTV news interview he also said “I’m concerned when we’re cutting core services like materials for kids to read.”
In fact, there was much more said both in chambers and the media in the last week with council agreeing that funding materials, programming and other primary services was essential to properly serve Barrie residents and uphold the Library’s mandate.
And yet, when the county came forward, and that 78,000 was freed up to go back towards core services, council ignored the proposal to redirect this amount to collections and instead, voted to take that money out of the library’s budget completely. But the money belongs to all of us as a community. It’s the money of residents like me. Residents like the 12,000 new members from the last year looking to access to the Library’s services, programming, resources and collections.
12,000 new patrons! Yet the Library requested the lowest increase of all the Service Partners. 12,000 new people looking for the services our Library provides. We need to sustainably support this essential resource for those 12,000 and the rest of us who were members before 2023 and all those who will join in the coming years.
The results from the Barrie Public Economic Impact Report in 2018 revealed that every dollar invested in the Barrie Public Library generates a value benefit of $4.00. So returning the $78,000 to the library budget works out to a value benefit of over $312,000 at a cost difference of roughly $1.30-1.40 per household for the entire year. My husband and I would be more than happy to contribute our 70 cents each to keep the library collections current and our community strong in 2024 and I know we are not the only ones.
And yes, of course there may be some families for whom the $1.40 difference pushes them across the line but those are the families who will be most needing the materials and services of a well resourced library in the coming year. Please support them and all of us by supporting the Library’s full budget request.
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