Funding for public Internet at library in jeopardy
SYDNEY — The regional librarian is worried about the possibility of losing funding for public Internet access, which is a popular service among students, job seekers and tourists.
Faye MacDougall of the Cape Breton Regional Library said she and her counterparts across Nova Scotia were informed by provincial librarian Jennifer Evans Nov. 5 that the Nova Scotia Provincial Library may not be able to cover the costs for Internet access for public libraries beyond this fiscal year.
“At this point in time, to my knowledge, that is not a definite,” she said Tuesday. “I know they are looking at it because I know regional librarians across the province certainly expressed that this is a very important service to the public and it would be a financial hardship for regional libraries if we had to take over payment of those costs.”
Evans confirmed Tuesday the loss of public Internet access funding is a possibility as the Nova Scotia Provincial Library works on its 2010-11 budget. She referred budget questions to Education Department spokesman Dan Harrison, who said it’s too soon to say at this stage of deliberations what funding the Nova Scotia Provincial Library will receive.
“ We are early in the process so any discussion about amounts is premature,” he said. “No determination has been made at this time.”
The costs of public Internet service at the Cape Breton Regional Library’s 13 branches is $41,904 this fiscal year
Losing the funding for public Internet access would probably force the regional library to find the money elsewhere in its budget, which could in turn mean less money for acquisitions and programs, MacDougall said.
“It would have a very significant impact — a negative impact — on our ability to provide programs and services.”
MacDougall said public Internet access is popular among students, people working on resumes and job searches, cruise ship and other visitors and by people just for recreational purposes.
Library statistics show public users accessed 45,390 hours of computer time (most of it on the Internet, according to MacDougall) and 7,694 hours of wireless service at the regional library last fiscal year.
Since 1998, more than 35,300 visitors from all over the world have used the public access, she noted.
The Cape Breton Regional Library receives 71 per cent of its annual funding from the provincial government, 26 per cent from Cape Breton Regional Municipality and Municipality of Victoria County and must raise three per cent on its own.
The municipal governments probably aren’t able to pick up the lost funding, MacDougall suggested.
Nick Warren, right, and Ganim Harb use the public Internet access computers at the McConnell Library in Sydney, Tuesday. Regional librarian Faye MacDougall of the Cape Breton Regional Library says she is worried about the possibility of losing funding for public Internet access.