Newfoundlanders learned through news reports today that over half of the libraries in their province will be closing over the next two years. CUPE 2329 represents 250 employees at the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board in 95 communities who are largely rural women who work part time.
Dawn Lahey, President of CUPE Local 2329, said “I am devastated by this news and very disappointed that our members would receive this devastating news through the media. Our members are very worried about the future and I don’t have enough information at this point to allay their fears. All we know right now is that more than half of our libraries will close. We do not know which libraries are in jeopardy or which staff are in jeopardy. The news is shocking to say the least.”
Libraries are essential to communities, especially rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. They provide access to a range of services that improve the lives of their patrons. Patrons can use high speed internet and other technology, including digital cameras, not to mention the library collection and inter-library loans. Libraries also foster a sense of community while at the same time aiding with increasing literacy levels for the members of the community. They are often a central hub of community activity, being used by community groups as meeting places, and as education centres for many community members. CUPE Local 2329 members conduct many education sessions for members of their communities, including computer training.
In 2013, the Martin Prosperity Institute of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto found that the Toronto Public Library had a significant positive impact on the economic activity of the city. Closure of libraries at this point is ill-advised of the Board.
CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador president Wayne Lucas said “Libraries play a vital role in our communities. Gutting the library system in this way is short-sighted. The people of this province need a government that understands that investing in people and communities is necessary if we are to weather this economic storm.”
We anticipate more information about the specific locations which are affected and we will be talking to our members as we receive this information.