Cumberland County library foundation moves closer to creation
Organization will raise money for programs, services, equipment
Work has begun on creating a foundation to support the Cumberland Public Libraries.
Library board chairman Dale Fawthrop first raised the concept during the organization’s annual meeting several weeks. He said similar foundations are in place at other libraries, such as in Truro.
With funding stagnant, Fawthrop said library boards have to look at alternative ways to raise money for programs and services and while boards will remain focused on governance, the foundation will raise money in the community. The money will be used to fund programs, services and equipment.
“Public libraries play an integral role in today’s world. In addition to books and Internet connections, they are cultural centres and community gathering hubs,” Fawthrop said. “In Cumberland County, the Amherst branch sees over 1,000 clients per week, while over 7,500 residents of the county have active library cards.”
The local library clients seek books, e-books, movies, magazines, newspapers, computer use and research assistance. Youth and adult members participate actively in many exciting and free programs.
“Public libraries in Nova Scotia have experienced increasing tough financial times over the last 10 years. The seven libraries in Cumberland are experiencing very challenging times due to staff requirements and distances and, most importantly, frozen provincial grants,” he said. “All past governments and parties over the last 20 years have not included the increased cost of living nor have they devised renewable funding beyond the yearly budget.”
Fawthrop said most people are not aware that library staff are not government employees and that the provincial grant to libraries does not cover capital expenses such as book, vans and computers.
The board is seeking assistance in the formation of a library foundation. “Time spent by library staff fundraising is time that cannot be used to provide services and programs. As well, the board has a governance role,” he said. “The board’s members come from municipal and provincial appointees. So, we need a local foundation to raise funds to assist with expenses such as replacement of the book van. The book van is used to move materials around the seven local libraries.
If interested in attending the first meeting of the Cumberland Libraries Foundation, contact Denise Corey, chief librarian at the head office in Amherst.
Cumberland Public Libraries board chairman Dale Fawthrop talks to youth services librarian Jenn Atkinson (centre) and assistant chief librarian Chantelle Taylor about the development of a library foundation in Cumberland County.