Party lead­ers should sup­port down­town li­brary project, says Pat Bates.

De­fi­cien­cies and in­ad­e­qua­cies in the ex­ist­ing 57-year-old McCon­nell Li­brary need to be ad­dressed

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - Pat Bates The Way For­ward Pat Bates is the chair­man of the New Cen­tral Li­brary Build­ing Com­mit­tee. He lives in Syd­ney.

I am us­ing this plat­form to com­mu­ni­cate with the lead­ers of Nova Sco­tia’s three ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties – Stephen McNeil (Lib­eral), Jamie Bail­lie (Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive) and Gary Bur­rill (New Demo­cratic Party) – seek­ing to form the new gov­ern­ment af­ter the May 30 pro­vin­cial elec­tion.

I chair a 12-mem­ber cit­i­zens’ com­mit­tee ad­vo­cat­ing for and work­ing to es­tab­lish a new li­brary build­ing, hence strength­en­ing and, by ne­ces­sity, up­grad­ing the 12-unit li­brary sys­tem in the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (CBRM) and Vic­to­ria County.

The project was ini­ti­ated in 2009 by the late Dr. Robert Mor­gan, for­mer pro­fes­sor in the His­tory Depart­ment at Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity. Mor­gan, an ed­u­ca­tor and au­thor in his own right, was con­cerned with the de­fi­cien­cies and in­ad­e­qua­cies in the ex­ist­ing 57-year-old McCon­nell Li­brary premises in down­town Syd­ney. This fa­cil­ity serves as core re­source provider for the 12 com­mu­nity li­braries and two book­mo­bile units in CBRM and Vic­to­ria County.

Mem­bers of the com­mit­tee, in ad­di­tion to li­brary man­age­ment per­son­nel, mu­nic­i­pal politi­cians and CBRM of­fi­cials, have ex­pended con­sid­er­able ef­fort to meet the grow­ing de­mands for ex­pand­ing tra­di­tional ser­vices to in­clude el­e­ments of dig­i­ti­za­tion, new and in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies, and op­por­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing and sup­port for cul­ture.

Two re­ports on the li­brary project were com­pleted by con­sul­tants in Novem­ber 2011 and again in De­cem­ber 2015, each en­dors­ing the need for an ex­panded and mod­ern­ized li­brary sys­tem for the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Li­brary.

In ad­di­tion, the Com­pos­ite Learn­ing In­dex (CLI) in 2010 has iden­ti­fied low lit­er­acy rates in CBRM. The Cana­dian Coun­cil on Learn­ing and OECD have pub­lished “Read­ing the Fu­ture: Plan­ning to Meet Canada’s Fu­ture Lit­er­acy Needs,” a com­pen­dium on the need for em­pha­sis on lit­er­acy to im­prove our com­mu­nity’s eco­nomic growth prospects. (See on­line at http://­brary/ re­search/ccl/fu­ture/fu­ture. pdf). Con­sider, as well, that the Econ­o­mist fea­tured a spe­cial re­port on life­long learn­ing in its Jan. 14, 2017, edi­tion.

A re­cent check on ap­pli­ca­tions to our com­mu­nity col­lege sys­tem in­di­cates de­fi­cien­cies in high school at­tain­ment es­sen­tial for ad­mis­sion to needed skills train­ing. The mes­sage is clear, es­pe­cially in Cape Bre­ton: with con­sis­tently above-av­er­age rates of un­em­ploy­ment, a mod­ern and a well-equipped li­brary is es­sen­tial.

Nova Sco­tia, to its credit, has taken some ac­tion over the past five years in li­brary re­newal. For ex­am­ple, new con­struc­tion and up­grades to ex­ist­ing build­ings have been sup­ported and have taken place in Antigo­nish, Hal­i­fax and Truro and cur­rently are planned in Pic­tou. Im­prove­ments in li­braries for other com­mu­ni­ties also have been made.

We are en­cour­aged by the cur­rent dis­cus­sion sur­round­ing relocation of a Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege cam­pus to the down­town in a com­plex hous­ing a new CBRM Syd­ney li­brary fa­cil­ity, but are mind­ful that we cur­rently are in pro­vin­cial elec­tion mode.

The ob­jec­tive of this com­mu­ni­ca­tion is as fol­lows: As chair­man, and on be­half of the New Cen­tral Li­brary Build­ing Com­mit­tee, and with due re­spect, I am ask­ing each of you, as pro­vin­cial party lead­ers, to fa­mil­iar­ize your­selves with the im­por­tance of this project and, if elected, to carry through on this vi­tal ini­tia­tive.

It needs to be said that the Fed­eral Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for this area has in­di­cated he will con­sider/sup­port a re­quest or “ask” from CBRM author­i­ties for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to con­struct a new li­brary fa­cil­ity. All re­quests for and to CBRM are im­por­tant, but none more im­por­tant than our com­mit­ment to lit­er­acy and ed­u­ca­tion in sup­port of eco­nomic growth and qual­ity of life.

“New (li­brary) con­struc­tion and up­grades have been sup­ported and have taken place in Antigo­nish, Hal­i­fax and Truro and cur­rently are planned in Pic­tou.”

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