Powell River librarian asks for letters to government leaders to increase funds

Provincial funding for libraries remains static

Regional district directors are supportive of additional funding from the province for libraries.

At the qathet Regional District committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, August 15, Powell River Public Library chief librarian Rebecca Burbank said she was in attendance to ask for the regional district’s support for requesting additional funds from the province for public libraries.

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She said for the past decade, approximately, public libraries have had an envelope of $14 million that has been spread across 71 different libraries in BC. It has not changed since 2008/2009.

“The lack of increase in funding from the province means that libraries are relying on local communities to foot the bill for the increased costs of operating libraries,” said Burbank. “A lot of pressure has been put on our local funders. We rely on local governments to understand and support that libraries are an essential resource.”

There have been positive signs on the front of increased provincial funding during the past couple of years. Burbank said City of Powell River Council put forward a resolution at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) meeting in 2017 asking for additional funding. This year there are 10 resolutions at UBCM and letters being sent from municipalities from across the province to the provincial government.

Burbank said the $14 million mark in 2009, with inflation, would look like $20 million today. The request that is coming forward is $20 million in 2020 from the province.

At the local level, Powell River Public Library receives approximately $91,000 from the province in grants and that has not changed in a decade. If the $14 million had increased to $20 million, in 2019, the library would have received an increase of $39,111 this year, meaning it would have requested $11,734 less from the regional district.

Burbank said her request for the regional district is that it supports the initiative for $20 million in 2020, and sends a letter to the MLA, premier, minister of education and finance minister, and supports the 10 UBCM resolutions that have been brought forward for provincial funding for public libraries.

“I would also request that any of the regional directors attending the UBCM [in September] attend the session: libraries support resilient communities,” said Burbank.

Committee of the whole voted to send the request to the regional board for sanction of writing the letter to provincial government representatives.

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