I have to admit that growing up I barely made use of libraries. I grew up in a francophone suburb of Montreal and the library there didn’t carry a good selection of English books. Being an avid reader I just used to buy all my books at Indigo/ Chapters … which was quite an expensive habit.
After moving to Toronto my wife introduced me to the Toronto Public Library system and I was blown away. They had pretty much every popular book and movie I was interested in. I think the Library system is one of the few things out there that work smoothly and make me glad to pay my taxes.
Recently, the city called for an assessment of all city services to make strategic budget cuts. As a result, our City Council wants to privatize some or all of Toronto Public Libraries’ (TPL) operations and close down branches. The private operator would decrease the degree of public funding that currently aids our libraries, but in order to make a profit, would make some changes that would make library access difficult for many. We would have higher user fees, fewer books, less access to the libraries because of local branches closing or hours of operation being limited, and more staff cuts. This type of cut would be a blow to many, especially lower income families who use the library system as their only means of internet access.
If the city wants to cut expenses they should look at the hourly rates they are paying to big businesses and the expensive contracts they have out there. I suggest that instead of cutting jobs and services they analyze the $100+ / hour they pay to external vendors and control costs that way. I wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t payed KPMG over $140 /hour to help them strategize on how to cut costs.
I encourage you to reach out to City Council and politely inform them that we want to continue enjoying what TPL offers us today and not to privatize. A list of your local city councillors can be found at: http://app.toronto.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp