To the Editor:
We talk about education and health care but our libraries are also vital community institutions that are under threat. Together we must stand up for them.
During the run up to the provincial election we should be asking each candidate, “Will you and your party commit to increased core funding for our public libraries?”
In a province that has a staggeringly high unemployment rate, libraries provide valuable resources for job readiness. Those seeking employment use them to find jobs and to gain help in preparing CVs and covering letters, among other things.
Libraries are a place for families to go to support educational attainment. This is especially important in rural Nova Scotia where other types of educational programmes are often nonexistent. Reading contests, book clubs, technological assistance, story times for young children and robotics instruction for older kids are among the important programmes made possible by our libraries.
The library is a hub of the community. Seniors on fixed incomes and others who cannot afford to purchase books and internet services find these at their public library. People who face difficult domestic situations find a peaceful refuge in the library. Libraries are democratic gathering places where all are made welcome.
Now is the time to stand up to the office seekers. Now is our time to send a clear message to them that we need to build our community institutions and not let them stagnate and wither. After the election it might just be too late. We must ensure that the politicians do not reduce collections and programmes, reduce opening hours, cut staffing, eliminate rural access to library services or even close library branches.
Let’s stand together to protect our public libraries from politics.