Education Minister Dale Kirby should show more respect for people living in rural communities, public library patrons and frontline library workers, say representatives of CUPE Newfoundland Labrador. His failure to attend any of the roundtable consultations, from October 5 to November 8, reveals the Liberal government was only paying ‘lip service’ to their review of the province’s public libraries.

On November 8, CUPE members and other stakeholders seized what could be their final opportunity to go on record as part of the Liberal government’s review of public libraries, protesting the threatened closure of 54 libraries.

“Dale Kirby should have been there. He should have heard all the positive comments about the current library system. There were only supportive comments from the full house of people at the event last night,” says Dawn Lahey, president of CUPE 2329.

“It’s disappointing that the review was set up in such a way that the main issue – the closure of 54 libraries – could not truly be addressed. It was not one of the questions that people were asked to contemplate or give their opinion on,” says Lahey.

“It’s also disappointing that elected officials did not attended the consultations.”

“People spoke from their hearts of their experiences with our libraries,” says Wayne Lucas, president of CUPE NL. “They passionately expressed how libraries are the hub of their communities, that the money invested in libraries is an ‘equalizer’ in our society, and that they generate more income than what is invested.”

“We’re thrilled that so many people showed up for the consultation and for the comments they made, not only for defending public libraries throughout our province, but also for their call to invest in them,” says Lucas. “Dale Kirby should immediately reverse the bad decision to close the 54 public libraries and should reinstate and reinvest funding at least to the 2011 levels.”