Since 1994, public library usage across Canada and the United States has continuously increased, far outpacing population growth. Perhaps surprisingly, this has happened at the same time that Internet use has exploded.
In spite of this massive growth in the popularity of public libraries, neoliberal municipal governments have consistently argued that advances in information technology somehow justify reducing library services, eliminating full-time staff, and shuttering branches.
While aggressive conservative politicians are rarely able to influence public opinion enough to mask off-loading public library services as anything less than an attack on public employees and the poor, Liberals are often able to get away with it.
The importance and worth of public libraries has been proven time and time again, and this week is a hard one for the cherished institutions. The new Liberal government of Newfoundland and Labrador has announced it will close half of public libraries in the province and impose a tax on books.
Meanwhile, workers at Toronto’s Public Libraries are engaged in a tough round of bargaining where they are trying to prevent the elimination of good jobs. With the bargaining deadline set for Monday night, they may be needing outside support if they are forced to strike.
Across the country, we need to continue to fight for and defend public libraries and their important contributions to the public good.
For updates on the Toronto Public Library, follow:
For updates on the fight back in Newfoundland and Labrador, follow: