If it wasn’t already painfully obvious from one of my recent posts, I love libraries. I’ve been a member of the Toronto Public Library for almost two years now and have fallen deeply in love with it from the very beginning of our relationship. The collection is massive (I’ve yet to find a book, no matter how obscure, that they don’t already have in stock), the branches are fantastic (my local Pape/Danforth branch is gorgeous on the outside and super friendly and welcoming on the inside), and the staff is always pleasant and helpful.
And it’s because my love for this public library system is so strong, that the threat of it becoming privatized upsets me so much. Due to Mayor Rob Ford’s cost-cutting agenda, the TPL could suffer severe cuts within the next week and some or all services could become privatized. I can’t write enough about how essential I think libraries are to a city and its people, not only as a place to check out books, but also as a cultural community hub. The Toronto Public Library is one of Toronto’s greatest assets and any reduction in its locations, services or staff would be of enormous detriment to this city. Mayor Ford’s brother, councillor Doug Ford, (falsely) claimed this week that, “We have more libraries per person than any other city in the world. I’ve got more libraries in my area than I have Tim Horton’s.” If only, Mr. Ford, if only! In reality, we have 3.9 libraries per 100,000 people, which is the same number as Vancouver. Halifax has 4.3 libraries per 100,000 people, and the state of Vermont, which has only one-quarter of the population of Toronto, has 30 libraries per 100,000. Oh, and in Doug Ford’s area (Etobicoke), there are 13 library branches and 39 Tim Horton’s stores. You do the math.
We don’t, however, have to take the Fords’ plan sitting down. If you haven’t yet signed the petition to keep the Toronto Public Library open and public, please take a minute to do so now. To date, over 13,600 people have signed the petition and we need to get that number as high as we can before the Executive Committee of Council discusses the issue on July 28th. It’ll take you less than a minute to sign the petition and to spread the word, either by sharing or tweeting the petition link or this blog post. Please help fight for the protection of our library!