Tell the Tories Day 12: Libraries are a vital part of literacy

NDP Leader and Education Critic Lorraine Michael

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) says government should be listening to the voices speaking in every corner of the province to support public libraries.

“The provincial library system is suffering from years of underfunding and neglect,” Michael said today. “On top of funding cuts, we see libraries that are housed in schools or municipal buildings, with no budget for rent should the municipalities or schools no longer have room for them.”

In December, the St. Lunaire-Griquet library was left without a home when the school it was housed in was closed. Michael notes that approximately a third of public libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador are located in schools, and some of those schools have declining student populations. Ten libraries have closed since the 1990s, and only one new one has opened since 1985.

In addition to libraries’ traditional provision of reading materials and programs, they often serve as the only point of Internet access. Increasingly, government and other services are accessible only, or largely, online. Michael points to student summer job services, home heating rebates, and tender information.

In January, Michael wrote to the Education minister, asking him to “stop the slow bleeding of the provincial library system,” restore the $1.2 million cut from the system in Budget 2013 and recognize and support the valuable services libraries provide. She continues to be hopeful he will see the wisdom of supporting public libraries, widely acknowledged to be a key component in building literacy.

On Jan. 27, in response to the newly-appointed premier’s declaration that he planned to listen to the people, NDP Leader Lorraine Michael started a campaign to remind government of messages the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have been trying to send. #TellTheTories encourages people to discuss ways they feel government has been ignoring them.

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