Doors will remain open at Cumberland libraries for at least one more year


Published on April 11, 2017

Denise Corey, chief librarian at Cumberland Public Libraries, answered questions during Thursday's public meeting at the Four Fathers Library in Amherst.

©Dave Mathieson - TC Media

AMHERST, N.S. – Nine Nova Scotia public library systems recently received $52,000 each in funding from the provincial government.

“I’m not going to get up here and say bad things about the fact you got a one time grant this year, I think we all know why we got it this year to be perfectly blunt,” said Jamie Baillie, MLA for Cumberland South, implying the government grant was provided because the Nova Scotia government plans to call an election sometime soon. “We’re going to be right back here again next year and you’ll be even further in the hole because inflation will have added percentage points to your budget.”

We have nine funding reviews going back to 1996, and not a single one has been picked up, so when they started this funding review I wasn’t holding my breath that much

Denise Corey, chief librariea at Cumberland Public Libraries

Jamie Baillie, MLA for Cumberland South asked Corey if there is long-term funding in the works.
Dave Mathieson - TC Media

Baillie was one of many speakers at a public meeting held Thursday night at the Four Fathers Library, which was attended by about 70 people.

The emergency, one-time grant was provided by the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

Without the $52,000 in funding it was feared libraries in Cumberland County would need to close branches or shorten hours.

Terry Farrell said the government is currently reviewing the funding process for libraries throughout Nova Scotia.
Dave Mathieson - TC Media

The new funds will allow libraries in Cumberland County to run without a deficit in 2017-2018, but without a long-term commitment from the government those funds will not help in the fiscal year 2018-2019.

During the meeting it was suggested the $52,000 was a bone thrown to Nova Scotia libraries to keep them happy for one year.

Terry Farrell, MLA for Cumberland North attended the meeting as well.

“I can understand why you would call that a bone but it’s certainly is a recognition of the good work the libraries do and is a recognition that you’re doing more with less every year,” said Farrell. “And once the work that’s being done on reviews, in co-operation with library organizations, we will move on and, hopefully, develop a mode where we can fund libraries across the province and fund them sustainably.”

Baillie had one question for Denise Corey, chief librarian with Cumberland Public Libraries.

“Do you have any sense that maybe you can get away from this annual begging process and actually have multi-year funding in place to run programs and not worry where the money is going to come from every 12 months?” asked Baillie.

Corey asked the politicians in the room to cover their ears, warning them she was going to say something they don’t like to hear.

“They (politicians) never give a straight answer but all indications are that we will not be getting an increase in 2017-2018,” said Corey.

Sustainable, multi-year funding is something regional libraries have proposed to the government before.

“It was part of a funding review in 2008. That funding review was looked at by the government and then shelved,” said Corey. “We have nine funding reviews going back to 1996, and not a single one has been picked up, so when they started this funding review I wasn’t holding my breath that much.”

There are nine library regions and 80 libraries serving 943,000 people in Nova Scotia.

The provincial government provides $14.4 million in funding to libraries, which works out to approximately $15 per person, per year.

Funding also comes from the Municipality of Cumberland County, and the towns of Amherst and Oxford.

They pay about one third of what the province pays, approximately $6 per person, per year for a population of 30,000.

Also, libraries are mandated to raise three per cent of their operating budget, but often raise more than that.

There are 8,600 people in Cumberland County with active library cards, which means they have used the card at least once in the past three years.

Programs offered at Cumberland Public Libraries

The programming budget is $6,000, which includes March Break and Summer reading programs.

2016-2017 – Offered 596 programs with over 12,000 people attending programs at all seven branches in Cumberland County

Adult attendance was 1,640, and children attended the rest.

March Break

All seven branches offered a total of 22 programs for March Break week. Attendance was 511.

Summer Reading

Last summer 329 kids signed up for the Summer Reading Club.

A total of 68 programs were offered last summer with 1,050 kids attending.

CART

The Children and Adults Reading Together program is funded by a grant and is offered at all branches in the fall and winter.

CART attendance in 2016-2017 was 667.