Bri­gus coun­cil has ques­tions about li­brary

Town to in­ves­ti­gate cost of op­er­at­ing, main­tain­ing ser­vice

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

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.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

The Bri­gus Pub­lic Li­brary is sched­uled to close dur­ing the Pro­vin­cial In­for­ma­tion and Li­brary Re­sources Board’s 2017-18 fis­cal year.

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