Fort St. John Library prepares for Provincial grant cuts

The Fort St. John library is joining others around the province in preparing for the latest round of cuts.

Most libraries have been bracing for the cuts for weeks, but the official announcement was made by Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid on Thursday.

MacDiarmid confirmed the government will cut provincial grants to libraries by 22 per cent in the September budget, meaning a drop of around 3.9 million across BC.

President of the B.C. Libraries Trustees Association Andy Ackerman says the Fort St. John library’s cuts could have been a lot worse.

[asset|aid=1777|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=880cea142dfad670c7192eb094505352-Ackerman 1_6_Pub.mp3]

Now, the Provincial government’s funding makes up only 18 per cent of the revenue to the local library. The majority of the funding comes from the city, and some comes from the Regional District.

The B.C. Government and Services Union, which represents more than 200 library workers across the province, says some libraries in smaller towns and cities won’t be as lucky. The Province’s grants make up more than 50 per cent of their total revenue for the year, and go toward literacy programming, funding interlibrary loans, licensing online resources, and much more.

Chair of the Fort St. John Library Lori Phillips says the local library won’t get off scot-free, and some of programs will have to be cut, including the Books for Babies, Electronic Database, and the Writers in Library’s program.

[asset|aid=1778|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=85934b48e946b18ce94ce74674b8b590-Phillips 1_1_Pub.mp3]

A Facebook group called Stop B.C. Library Cuts, was set up to garner support for decreasing the overall cuts. It says now that the announcement has been made, the library community will work with the province over the next weeks as the details are finalized. It also says issues of equity and supporting collaboration will continue to be high priorities.

Phillips says she is impressed with the amount people who wrote letters, made phone calls, and showed their support to the local library when talks were in place.

She says the library’s traffic has increased in the economic downturn, and libraries will continue to be essential to the community.