In spite of broad public opposition, plans to slash the budget of the Toronto Public Library, close branches and reduce hours and services remain part of the City of Toronto Manager’s budget plans released this morning.
The City Manager is recommending that the Toronto Public Library Board close branches, cut hours of operation and services, measures that are likely to find support at the newly constituted Library Board which will take 8 new Ford administration appointees in October.
“Every single cut in the KPMG Service Review report is included in the City Manager’s report, and even more,” said Maureen O’Reilly, President of the Toronto Public Library Worker’s Union.
The City Manager is asking for authority to “enhance co-ordination” of the City’s libraries, community centres, and community hubs. The report also recommends privatizing TPL’s information technology functions.
Even though the City Manager suggests punting the decision to slash the TPL and its services to the Library Board, City Council must ultimately approve any budget cuts the Board recommends.
“From my reading of public opinion, any Councillor who votes to cut our libraries should start thinking about a new career after the next election,” O’Reilly said.
After trimming 200 positions at the Toronto Public Library after amalgamation, the TPL is one of the most efficient library systems in North America and the busiest system in the world.
“If the Ford administration goes along with this plan it will mean cutting library hours, services and programs. This will be a terrible mistake, not just socially and economically but politically as well. Torontonians love their libraries and will rise up in their defence,” O’Reilly said.
A recent Forum Research poll conducted on July 4, 2011 found that three-quarters of Toronto residents disagree with the idea of closing local library branches as a way of solving the city?s deficit (74%), and more than one half disagree “strongly” (54%). When it is their own local branch which is threatened, the proportion of those who “strongly disagree” increases to two-thirds (64%).
More than 47,000 people have signed a petition in defence of the Toronto Public Library located at www.ourpubliclibrary.to
For further information:
Contact: Jim Thompson – (613) 447-9592