Free­dom to read isn’t al­ways for free

Gov­ern­ment con­sid­er­ing cut­ting fund­ing for In­ter­net at li­braries

Cape Breton Post - - ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT -

(www.bookand­pe­ri­od­i­cal­coun­cil.c a) with events all across Canada from Feb. 21-27 (but no lo­cal events I could find).

The web­site has a list of books “chal­lenged” at var­i­ous schools and li­braries for the usual rea­sons: sex, vi­o­lence, and un­pop­u­lar ideas. It is re­as­sur­ing that this kind of cen­sor­ship does not go un­chal­lenged.

And then our pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment an­nounced it was con­sid­er­ing cut­ting off fund­ing to li­braries for In­ter­net ac­cess.

The Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Li­brary would have to find $41,904 to keep its ser­vice go­ing.

Pub­lic ac­cess com­put­ers pro­vide valu­able ac­cess for stu­dents, job-seek­ers (pre­par­ing re­sumes), sup­ports tourism, and is of­ten the sole ac­cess point for lower in­come res­i­dents.

At CBRL, in 2008-09 pub­lic ac­cess com­put­ers were used a to­tal of 45,390 hours (1,891.25 days.) and wireless In­ter­net ac­cess was used 7,694 hours.

Choos­ing be­tween In­ter­net and other li­brary ser­vices is as big a chal­lenge to the free ex­change of ideas as any list of banned books.

The premier re­cently read a book of Homer’s Odyssey at a fundrais­ing event in Hal­i­fax for a pro­gram to bring hu­man­i­ties ed­u­ca­tion to peo­ple liv­ing be­low the poverty line.

Maybe he and any MLA who votes for the cut­backs can tour ev­ery li­brary in the prov­ince and read at sim­i­lar fundrais­ing events.

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