B.C. municipalities call on province to reverse cuts on funding for public libraries

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      Public libraries are an important part of communities, providing safe spaces where people can learn and interact with others.

      On average, a British Columbian visits a library in person six times per year, according to a current strategic plan by the libraries branch of the Ministry of Education.

      While the province recognizes the value of libraries, two motions submitted for the 2017 convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) note that its funding for the system has been on a decline.

      According to resolutions prepared by the towns of Powell River and Ladysmith, provincial funding for public libraries used to constitute 21 percent of total revenue.

      As of 2016, funding by the province for libraries is down to five percent of total revenue.

      The two resolutions note that the decrease in provincial funding has put pressure on municipalities and regional districts.

      The resolutions call on the province to restore funding to 21 percent of total revenue, a measure endorsed by the resolutions committee for the consideration of UBCM representatives.

      The Powell River resolution argues that bringing back the previous funding level will enable libraries to operate in an “efficient, effective and equitable manner”.

      The UBCM is holding its 2017 convention in Vancouver from September 25 to September 29.

      According to the libraries branch of the Ministry of Education, the province provides $14 million in grants to libraries per year.

      The agency also notes on the provincial government’s website that libraries are funded principally by local governments.

      In its current plan, the libraries branch notes that there are 71 public libraries in B.C., with 247 locations serving most of the population in the province.

      According to the plan, there were over 60 million physical and digital visits to libraries in 2015.