Province needs investments in public library system
NDP Education Critic Dale Kirby (MHA, St. John’s North) and colleague Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) are calling on the government to renew investments in public libraries. They made the comments after a visit to the St. Anthony Public Library today.
“The last new public library in this province was built in 1984,” said Kirby, “and since the 1990s, the number of public libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador has been slashed from 106 to 96. At the same time, the demand for services provided by libraries has stayed constant.
“People still read books. Students still do research. More and more government and business operations are most easily accessed on line, and libraries provide that access,” he added. “In my own district of St. John’s North, Portugal Cove-St. Philips is in desperate need of a new library, as is nearby Paradise.”
The Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries board is developing a plan for new libraries, which the MHAs say shows the clear desire and need for the investment. Communities like Flower’s Cove, Roddickton-Bide Arm, Main Brook, Englee and Plum Point have all been identified as ideal locations for public libraries because there are very few libraries on the Great Northern Peninsula.
“Libraries and the services they provide are vital components of education and rural development,” Mitchelmore added. “A library can be a community hub, providing high-speed internet access to people who cannot get service in their homes, or who cannot afford it. There can be space for tele-learning and meetings. We need some creative thinking on government’s part.”