Speaking out against library cuts
I am writing regarding the closure of the public library in Harbour Grace.
The War Memorial Library in Harbour Grace is one of the libraries slated be closed by the current provincial Liberal government. In a province with one of the lowest literacy rates in Canada, it is a backwards step to close half our libraries down.
Imagine what greater good we could do if we increased library spending and provided more resources to the many people about to be negatively affected by the austerity budget.
In November 2015, I won the NLCU Fresh Fish Award. I would never have written the manuscript that won if had not been for the library in Harbour Grace.
I can remember the exact moment when I decided to start writing. It was January and freezing. I was broke at the time; too worried about heating bills to consider buying books.
I had been to the library that day and picked up a copy of “Walking to Shenak” by Carmelita McGrath. Reading about some- one else’s isolation made me feel less alone during a hard winter in Harbour Grace and it made it me want to write too.
I started writing that winter and I continued to read. Our small library in library in Harbour Grace is full of literary treasure. I would never have read “Hearts Larry Broke” by the Burning Rock Collective or “Finishing School” by Helen Fogwill Porter had I not come upon them on Harbour Grace Library’s shelves.
I’ve read and been inspired by “The Skin Room” by Sara Tilley, “The Topography of Love” by Bernice Morgan, “February” by Lisa Moore, The Death of Donna Whalen by Michael Winter, Inside by Kenneth J. Harvey, “The Glass Harmonica” by Russell Wangersky, “Maiden from the Sea” by Nellie Strowbridge and “Maxine” by Claire Wilkshire, to name but a few. When the library closes access to these titles will end for the residents of Harbour Grace.
I don’t drive. There have been many times when I have been without the Internet and the only way for me to access books is to walk to the library.
I look around Harbour Grace — about to lose its historic courthouse, tourist chalet and our public library — and I want to weep. I want to weep for the kid with no books at home who will now be completely shut off from the literary world.
I want to weep for all the people who use the library for Internet access or a quiet study space. Books on how to build a shed, on how cook to manage diabetes, mystery novels and romance, will all be gone.
Imagine if instead of closing libraries, and further disenfranchising the most vulnerable adults and children in this province, the provincial government gave the libraries another million (really a pittance in economies of this scale) how much more the library system could do in this province.
Books teach us empathy, something clearly lacking in our current Liberal government.
Susie Taylor writes from Harbour Grace