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Letter to the editor: Concerns with library cuts

As a resident of Thunder Bay, I am putting forward my concern and discord with the City Council’s motion to cut upwards of $300,000 destined to Thunder Bay’s Libraries.
Letters to the editor

A letter to City Council,

As a resident of Thunder Bay, I am putting forward my concern and discord with the City Council’s motion to cut upwards of $300,000 destined to Thunder Bay’s Libraries.

Ultimately, the job of council is to represent its citizens’ wants and to better foster it’s community. It is my right to have my and others voices heard.

Mr. Bentz presented that “we tend to have more libraries than most cities”, which is quite a vague statement. What are the actual numbers on that, and was the geographic size of the cities taken into consideration with that statistic. Thunder Bay has a large span, which caters to many patrons.

As an educator and a mother, I can see, as Mr. Aiello, states, that there are benefits to technology, but am also certain that Mr. Aiello, is aware of the irrefutable benefits of not only the books in the library, but the immeasurable contributions the libraries give back to the community; a community that is struggling with opioid addiction and statistically higher than the rest of the province in terms of mental health and addiction rates.

The library offers free educational resources for those that cannot afford to buy them or access them using technology or other means. I am referring to refugees, new to the city and country, to low-income families, to youth that do not have full time jobs, to those that desire higher education, in a country where post secondary education is only becoming more and more expensive and to those simply who do not have access to the internet at their homes. Taking books home answers all of those issues. Not only does it offer the resources, it also provides a safe haven for these at risk communities.

The library also aids in sustainability. Why do we need to purchase books, when we can take them out instead from the library? As a city that has recently declared a climate emergency, should we not be promoting sustainability?

Statistics have noted that, “in our province of Ontario, 42 per cent of adults do not have the literacy skills they need for home, work and life. In 2011, 22.4 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 25 and 64 did not have a high school diploma”, so it is my belief, that this environment, that is not a school system, should be praised and promoted in order to combat this number.

In line with the prior point, as a mother I am a witness and attendee with my children, to many of the programs that the local library runs in order to promote and foster the love of reading in children. In fostering this love, we as a city will be able to contest the stats previously listed. This greater literacy rate will only aid our city in creating more individuals that can go into our workforce and thus economically strengthen our city.

Finally, in a society that seems to need more than ever to come together, public libraries also offer a community centre for diverse populations to come together. Where else do we see this in our society, other than in publicly funded education, where everyone is put on equal grounds?

I would like to thank those who have taken the time to read this. I am sure that I am not stating any facts that our councillors are not aware of, but I wanted to emphasize that I am using my right as a voter and member of Thunder Bay, to respectfully rebut the councillor's proposal of funding cuts to the local libraries.

Hannah Persichino,
Thunder Bay

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