Fund­ing for pub­lic In­ter­net at li­brary in jeop­ardy

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY CHRIS HAYES chayes@cb­

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.

Steve Wad­den - Cape Bre­ton Post

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.

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