Brigus council has questions about library
Town to investigate cost of operating, maintaining service
Brigus’ mayor says the town needs to get some questions answered before it can entertain the possibility of taking over the community’s public library.
“The biggest question of all is what’s the operational budget of it,” Mayor Byron Rodway told The Compass last week.
Brigus Public Library is one of 54 the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board ( PILRB) will close over the next two years as a result of budget cuts introduced by the Liberal government.
Eastern division manager John White told the town in a letter last month Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries is willing to sell libraries and all items contained within to a municipalities or community groups, allowing them to find new life as volunteer public libraries. PILRB owns the library building in Brigus, which was originally built in the late 1800s and once served as the home of the Jubilee Club.
“Right now, we are going to set up a meeting with (Education Minister Dale Kirby),” said the mayor. “Not necessarily to put in a request to maintain it. We’re going to see where we’re going to go with it.”
The letter from White noted provincial legislation requires such buildings be sold at fair market value.
Out of the 10 public libraries currently operating in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia area (five of which will close), Brigus has the fourth-highest circulation figure for the 201516 fiscal year, with 7,700 items taken out by library users (Placentia was next at 7,936). That figure represents a nine per cent decline compared to the previous year.
Unfortunately, the town is also less than a 30-minute drive from one of the most popular libraries in the province when it comes to circulation. Bay Roberts had over 32,000 items circulated in 2015-16, a seven per cent increase from the year before.
Rodway acknowledged the good work of the local board over the years to raise funds to support activities at the library.
“The local library board does a fantastic job. They raise money to purchase supplies for things such as the kids’ activities. There’s a preschool program going on there — story-time. I think the raise some money for things like that.”
As part of a move towards a regional library model, the board plans to provide additional materials and program offerings in those slated to remain open beyond 2018.
“The last thing anyone on council wants is to see another building close up in Brigus or another service go out of Brigus. We’ve lost too many,” said the mayor. The community used to have a federal fisheries office, a courthouse, social services office, and multiple school buildings.
But with an annual budget inching closer to $800,000 as each year passes, the town needs to carefully consider what would be the implications of taking over the relevant maintenance and operational costs for a library.
The Brigus Public Library is scheduled to close during the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board’s 2017-18 fiscal year.