Toronto –  More than 120 of Toronto’s best known literary figures have signed an open letter to Mayor Rob Ford and City Council to express their concern that proposed cuts to the Toronto Public Library will do grievous harm to one of the leading public libraries in the world and the people who use it.

In their letter, the authors point out that in the absence of any proper evaluation of the real costs of cutting our public library, City Council has no business even considering budget reductions and should use a small fraction of the City’s 2011 budget surplus to avoid potentially costly blind decisions.

The open letter to Mayor Ford and City Council has been signed by dozens of internationally recognized and award winning novelists, story tellers, and literary figures including Canada’s most celebrated author, Margaret Atwood, and Giller Prize founder Jack Rabinovitch.

“Torontonians love and need their library and do not wish to see it diminished, and this is yet another sign of that affection and demonstration of the importance of our public library,” said Maureen O’Reilly, President of the Toronto Public Library Workers Union.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Mayor Ford and City Councillors,

We are concerned that cuts to the Toronto Public Library will do grievous harm to one of the leading public libraries in the world and the people who use it.  Please do not support budget proposals that would limit access to our public library or diminish it in any way.

The Toronto Public Library is so important for so many reasons that we are surprised and alarmed to know that there has been no evaluation of the potential costs of gutting library services and programs.  Will the cost of education rise as a result of the cuts?  How about the cost of settling new comers?  Or the economic cost to the city’s reputation?  Apparently, we just don’t know because no one has produced a credible case that library cuts will actually save money.

With an expected 2011 surplus of more than $150 million, it is not necessary to make these cuts blindly.

Proposed library budget cuts represent only a small portion of the City’s available surplus. We have the resources to maintain current library services throughout 2012 while we conduct a comprehensive, business-like study of the economic value of Toronto’s library system to the city as a whole. The result will be that in the next budget cycle we can determine with confidence what, if any, cuts to library services make sense.

We urge you to support this rational approach to determining the future of one of the world’s great library systems rather than supporting the current proposals that would blindly hack away at this cherished institution.

Yours sincerely,

Elizabeth Abbott

Margaret Atwood

Linwood Barclay

Michael Barnes

Bob Barton

Matt Beam

John Bemrose

Gail Benick

Jody Berland

Samantha Bernstein

David Bezmozgis

Ann Birch

Heather Birrell

Lorne Blumer

Gail Bowen

Allan Briesmaster

David Brown

Pat Brown

Cathy Marie Buchanan

Kathy Buckworth

Mary Byers

Barry Callaghan

Veronika Martenova Charles

David Clark

Tish Cohen

Charis Cotter

Pauline Couture

Cheryl Cowdy

Susan Crean

Tom Crothers

Brian Day

Sandra Dempsey

Kristen den Hartog

Claudia Dey

Sonia Di Placido

Tom Douglas

Dan Dowhal

Glen Downie

Bernadette Dyer

David Dyment

Soraya Erian

Terri Favro

Joy Fielding

Judy Fong Bates

Sylvia Fraser

Keith Garebian

Gale Zoe Garnett

Graeme Gibson

David Gilmour

Susan Glickman

Katherine Govier

Sonja Greckol

Bob Hanke

Amy Lavender Harris

Maggie Helwig

Cynthia Holz

Maureen Hynes

John Jeneroux

Jan Kainer

Alexey Konkin

Bianca Lakoseljac

Vincent Lam

Jennifer Lanthier

Shari Lapena

Myrna Levy

Joan Levy Earle

Lesley Livingston

Rona Maynard

Seymour Mayne

Dennis McCloskey

Ken McGoogan

Sharon E. McKay

Maria Meindl

Ruth Miller

Fereshteh Molavi

Anne Montagnes

Esteve Morera

Colleen Murphy

Mahtab Narsimhan

Zoe Newman

Hal Niedzviecki

Liam O’Donnell

Susan Ouriou

Karen Patkau

Shelley Peterson

Anna Porter

Kate Pullinger

Jack Rabinovitch

Ceta Ramkhalawansingh

Ray Robertson

Gilbert Reid

Heidi Reimer

Peter Robinson

Bev Katz Rosenbaum

Robert Rotenberg

Jeffrey Round

Zoë S. Roy

Ron Ruakin

John Scully

Emil Sher

Philip Siller

Sharon Singer

Emily St. John Mandel

Linda Stitt

Patricia Storms

David Stren

Cordelia Strube

Johanna Stuckey

Susan Swan

Jeremy Tankard

Paul Vermeersch

Thom Vernon

Stephen Voyce

Susana Wald

Natalie Zina Walschots

Sylvia Warsh

Pam Watts

Robert Paul Weston

Erika Whitney

Sheila Wilmot

Mary Wood

Paul Zemokhol

Rachel Zolf

Eric Zweig


For information:

Jim Thompson 613-447-9592