Balance the books

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The Hamilton Public Library Board this month cut its proposed 2006 operating budget increase from 4.3 per cent to 3.7 per cent. The cut reduces the library's materials budget - used to buy DVDs, books and specialized items - by $55,000.

The library was unable to meet city council's request that boards and agencies, including the library, consider cutting operating budget increases to three per cent. Politicians, facing a possible $45-million deficit, have also asked organizations like Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. and the Art Gallery to slice their budget requests.

Meanwhile, councillors last month approved the Hamilton Police Service's 4.6 per cent budget hike for 2006, saying the police service is different, as it means improved community safety.

While we don't propose equating picking up a DVD at the library with getting criminals off our streets, libraries serve a greater purpose than offering the latest page-turner and this is why city council should approve the 3.7 per cent proposal:

According to the Hamilton Literacy Council, 60 per cent of Hamiltonians need some help with basic reading and writing, well above the national average of 47 per cent.

The library runs programs for newcomers to Canada and offers ESL kits, homework clubs and internet access.

Free access to books and research materials gives the 100,000 Hamilton residents living below the poverty line opportunities they would not otherwise have. And giving children coming from any income bracket a gateway to adventure every time they turn the page fosters imagination and creativity.

The Correctional Service of Canada says about 54 per cent of inmates entering institutions test at lower than Grade 10 literacy levels and about 79 per cent do not have a high school diploma. Inability to read and write may not cause criminal behaviour, but it does make life difficult. Literacy skills can break the cycle of poverty, unemployment and isolation that can lead to crime.

In a city where 22 per cent of residents live below the poverty line, equal access to information and the internet becomes even more important.

To maintain services within budget constraints, the library has cut hours. For example, most rural branches, such as Millgrove, Greensville and Freelton are open just 17 hours a week. And this year's cut to the materials budget means fewer new books, DVDs and multicultural and ESL materials.

While funding hasn't kept up with need, the library's popularity has exploded. For example, the number of patrons placing holds by computer shot up by 35 per cent last year.

Ken Roberts, Hamilton's chief librarian, said that future cost-cutting would mean a branch would have to close, a move that would cause the least disruption and would cut heating, shipping and leasing costs. But he hopes to avoid taking away a community's library.

For years, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library tried to avoid closing branches. The system had to make so many cuts to staff, hours and electronic programs, it was no longer an asset to residents. Last year, Buffalo closed 16 of 53 branches, started charging for holds and closed certain departments one day each week.

Roberts says a 3.7 per cent budget increase for 2006 would be fair, but the library will need to continue looking for efficiencies, at a time when many of its buildings are in poor physical shape and need updates to meet accessibility requirements. The Hamilton Public Library is one of the oldest in North America, dating back to the 1840s and Hamiltonians love their library. In fact, more than half of Hamilton residents have an active account.

The library provides a level playing field for all residents to access information and resources.

If there is a community that needs this to be protected, it's Hamilton.

The Issue

Public Library funding

Our View

Hamilton must support its public library system

Balance the books

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The Hamilton Public Library Board this month cut its proposed 2006 operating budget increase from 4.3 per cent to 3.7 per cent. The cut reduces the library's materials budget - used to buy DVDs, books and specialized items - by $55,000.

The library was unable to meet city council's request that boards and agencies, including the library, consider cutting operating budget increases to three per cent. Politicians, facing a possible $45-million deficit, have also asked organizations like Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. and the Art Gallery to slice their budget requests.

Meanwhile, councillors last month approved the Hamilton Police Service's 4.6 per cent budget hike for 2006, saying the police service is different, as it means improved community safety.

While we don't propose equating picking up a DVD at the library with getting criminals off our streets, libraries serve a greater purpose than offering the latest page-turner and this is why city council should approve the 3.7 per cent proposal:

According to the Hamilton Literacy Council, 60 per cent of Hamiltonians need some help with basic reading and writing, well above the national average of 47 per cent.

The library runs programs for newcomers to Canada and offers ESL kits, homework clubs and internet access.

Free access to books and research materials gives the 100,000 Hamilton residents living below the poverty line opportunities they would not otherwise have. And giving children coming from any income bracket a gateway to adventure every time they turn the page fosters imagination and creativity.

The Correctional Service of Canada says about 54 per cent of inmates entering institutions test at lower than Grade 10 literacy levels and about 79 per cent do not have a high school diploma. Inability to read and write may not cause criminal behaviour, but it does make life difficult. Literacy skills can break the cycle of poverty, unemployment and isolation that can lead to crime.

In a city where 22 per cent of residents live below the poverty line, equal access to information and the internet becomes even more important.

To maintain services within budget constraints, the library has cut hours. For example, most rural branches, such as Millgrove, Greensville and Freelton are open just 17 hours a week. And this year's cut to the materials budget means fewer new books, DVDs and multicultural and ESL materials.

While funding hasn't kept up with need, the library's popularity has exploded. For example, the number of patrons placing holds by computer shot up by 35 per cent last year.

Ken Roberts, Hamilton's chief librarian, said that future cost-cutting would mean a branch would have to close, a move that would cause the least disruption and would cut heating, shipping and leasing costs. But he hopes to avoid taking away a community's library.

For years, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library tried to avoid closing branches. The system had to make so many cuts to staff, hours and electronic programs, it was no longer an asset to residents. Last year, Buffalo closed 16 of 53 branches, started charging for holds and closed certain departments one day each week.

Roberts says a 3.7 per cent budget increase for 2006 would be fair, but the library will need to continue looking for efficiencies, at a time when many of its buildings are in poor physical shape and need updates to meet accessibility requirements. The Hamilton Public Library is one of the oldest in North America, dating back to the 1840s and Hamiltonians love their library. In fact, more than half of Hamilton residents have an active account.

The library provides a level playing field for all residents to access information and resources.

If there is a community that needs this to be protected, it's Hamilton.

The Issue

Public Library funding

Our View

Hamilton must support its public library system

Balance the books

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The Hamilton Public Library Board this month cut its proposed 2006 operating budget increase from 4.3 per cent to 3.7 per cent. The cut reduces the library's materials budget - used to buy DVDs, books and specialized items - by $55,000.

The library was unable to meet city council's request that boards and agencies, including the library, consider cutting operating budget increases to three per cent. Politicians, facing a possible $45-million deficit, have also asked organizations like Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. and the Art Gallery to slice their budget requests.

Meanwhile, councillors last month approved the Hamilton Police Service's 4.6 per cent budget hike for 2006, saying the police service is different, as it means improved community safety.

While we don't propose equating picking up a DVD at the library with getting criminals off our streets, libraries serve a greater purpose than offering the latest page-turner and this is why city council should approve the 3.7 per cent proposal:

According to the Hamilton Literacy Council, 60 per cent of Hamiltonians need some help with basic reading and writing, well above the national average of 47 per cent.

The library runs programs for newcomers to Canada and offers ESL kits, homework clubs and internet access.

Free access to books and research materials gives the 100,000 Hamilton residents living below the poverty line opportunities they would not otherwise have. And giving children coming from any income bracket a gateway to adventure every time they turn the page fosters imagination and creativity.

The Correctional Service of Canada says about 54 per cent of inmates entering institutions test at lower than Grade 10 literacy levels and about 79 per cent do not have a high school diploma. Inability to read and write may not cause criminal behaviour, but it does make life difficult. Literacy skills can break the cycle of poverty, unemployment and isolation that can lead to crime.

In a city where 22 per cent of residents live below the poverty line, equal access to information and the internet becomes even more important.

To maintain services within budget constraints, the library has cut hours. For example, most rural branches, such as Millgrove, Greensville and Freelton are open just 17 hours a week. And this year's cut to the materials budget means fewer new books, DVDs and multicultural and ESL materials.

While funding hasn't kept up with need, the library's popularity has exploded. For example, the number of patrons placing holds by computer shot up by 35 per cent last year.

Ken Roberts, Hamilton's chief librarian, said that future cost-cutting would mean a branch would have to close, a move that would cause the least disruption and would cut heating, shipping and leasing costs. But he hopes to avoid taking away a community's library.

For years, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library tried to avoid closing branches. The system had to make so many cuts to staff, hours and electronic programs, it was no longer an asset to residents. Last year, Buffalo closed 16 of 53 branches, started charging for holds and closed certain departments one day each week.

Roberts says a 3.7 per cent budget increase for 2006 would be fair, but the library will need to continue looking for efficiencies, at a time when many of its buildings are in poor physical shape and need updates to meet accessibility requirements. The Hamilton Public Library is one of the oldest in North America, dating back to the 1840s and Hamiltonians love their library. In fact, more than half of Hamilton residents have an active account.

The library provides a level playing field for all residents to access information and resources.

If there is a community that needs this to be protected, it's Hamilton.

The Issue

Public Library funding

Our View

Hamilton must support its public library system