A move by the Village of Burns Lake to ensure libraries in rural areas receive enough money is to be considered next month when delegates from local governments across B.C. gather in Whistler for an annual convention.
The village’s position takes the form of a formal resolution already endorsed by the resolutions committee of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) and it will now be voted on by delegates attending its annual meeting.
The resolution, a product of local consultation between the village and the Burns Lake public library, notes that public libraries have generally fallen behind budget requirements.
That happened in 2009 when the provincial government of the day cut its public library spending by more than 20 percent. Since then, funding has remained stagnant at $14 million annually.
The resolution calls on the provincial government to restore grant levels to pre-2009 levels.
And it calls on the provincial government to “commit to forming a task force to work with public library associations to ensure that funding formulas do not allow urbanization to threaten public library association sustainability.”
The resolution is already being supported by the North Central Local Government Association, a step which then meant it was sent to the UBCM for consideration.
Local governments through the North Central Local Government Association have noted that as some resource-dependent communities are seeing their populations dwindle, “vibrant public libraries are needed to help those communities reinvent themselves and to “provide residents the opportunity to participate in new economies.”
The UBCM resolutions committee did note that UBCM delegates at past conventions have consistently supported the call for the province to restore its financial support to at least that of pre-2009 levels.
Leading up to the UBCM convention, the provincial education ministry has indicated it is currently “looking at the overall strategic priorities for public library service and how provincial funding for libraries is distributed.”
– with files from Flavio Nienow