Five lo­cal li­braries ear­marked for clo­sure

Bri­gus, Fox Har­bour, Har­bour Grace, Vic­to­ria, Win­ter­ton los­ing ser­vice

The Compass - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW ROBINSON editor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Five li­braries in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia area will close over the next two years, ac­cord­ing to a list re­leased last Thurs­day by the Pro­vin­cial In­for­ma­tion and Li­brary Re­sources Board (PILRB).

Li­braries in Bri­gus, Fox Har­bour, Har­bour Grace, Vic­to­ria and Win­ter­ton will close. The Win­ter­ton li­brary, which is lo­cated in the same prop­erty as Perl­win Ele­men­tary, will close at some point in the 2016-17 fis­cal year, while the other four li­braries are slated to shut down the fol­low­ing year.

Re­gional li­braries will be lo­cated in Bay Roberts, Car­bon­ear, Old Per­li­can, Pla­cen­tia and Whit­bourne.

The clo­sure of 54 out of 95 li­braries across New­found­land and Labrador is due to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to re­duce PILRB’s op­er­at­ing bud­get by $1 mil­lion.

Win­ter­ton Mayor Mark Shep­pard was dis­ap­pointed by the news of the im­pend­ing clo­sure of his town’s li­brary. With two sons at­tend­ing the lo­cal ele­men­tary school, he per­son­ally un­der­stands the value of the li­brary to kids in the area.

“It’s sad to see. It’s one of very few ser­vices de­liv­ered in Win­ter­ton,” he said when reached by The Com­pass last Fri­day.

While Shep­pard is sym­pa­thetic to the province’s need to re­duce ex­pen­di­tures, the mayor sus­pects gov­ern­ment could have found ways to do more of that within gov­ern­ment of­fices in St. John’s.

Mike Hew­son, chair of the Bay Roberts Li­brary Board, told The Com­pass prior to PILRB’s an­nounce­ment of which ones would close that ser­vices pro­vided by li­braries are of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance to chil­dren.

“It’s there, in my view, where lit­er­acy starts and the idea of read­ing and learn­ing and ac­quir­ing knowl­edge,” he said, later adding the clo­sure of li­braries comes with dan­ger­ous con­se­quences.

“I come from a science back­ground and I know the cost of knowl­edge and the cost of re­search and the cost of ac­quir­ing knowl­edge. It can be ex­pen­sive, but if you take a look at the cost of ig­no­rance, you’ll find that’s a lot more ex­pen­sive.”

In the case of Win­ter­ton, Shep­pard says his coun­cil will likely look into whether there’s a way to keep the li­brary func­tion­ing in some ca­pac­ity, even if that means re­ly­ing on a pool of vol­un­teers for a few hours through out any given week. Coun. Roger Green is also the prin­ci­pal at Perl­win El­e­men- tary. Shep­pard said Fri­day he would likely talk with Green about the li­brary clo­sure later that day.

Har­bour Grace Mayor Terry Barnes, who spoke with The Com­pass be­fore spe­cific clo­sures were an­nounced, said his coun­cil would likely con­sider weigh­ing the pros and cons of tak­ing over the li­brary if it were closed.

David His­cock, chair of the board re­spon­si­ble for Bri­gus’ li­brary, didn’t want to speak at length about his li­brary’s clo­sure when con­tacted Fri­day, but he did say he’s pre­pared to fight for keep­ing it open.

Fox Har­bour Mayor John Whif­fen de­clined com­ment when con­tacted by The Com­pass Fri­day. Vic­to­ria Mayor Barry Doo­ley could not be reached prior to dead­line.

AN­DREW ROBINSON/THE COM­PASS

The Har­bour Grace War Memo­rial Li­brary is one of five in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia area slated to close within the next two years. The Pro­vin­cial In­for­ma­tion and Li­brary Re­sources Board is clos­ing over half of all li­braries in New­found­land and Labrador.

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