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Letter to the Editor: Library CEO speaks out against proposed capital budget cut

Thunder Bay Public Library CEO Richard Togman says the library has a significant infrastructure gap, and the city is now proposing to cut its capital budget
Letter to the editor

The Library is under threat and there are 3 important numbers you need to know to understand how we got to this point — 0.02, 21 million and 15.

Over the last 15 years, our operating budget has only increased by 0.02 per cent, after accounting for inflation. We have a $21 million infrastructure gap. In 2007 the City accepted the Library’s master plan and allocated $21 million over 15 years to support our buildings. These would pay for modern heating systems, replacing 40+ year old windows, and ensuring we meet accessibility standards. Since then the Library has only received $44,000 of the $21 million. On top of tall that, City Administration is now proposing a 15 per cent capital budget cut.

The Library is more important than ever. With inflation eating away at affordability and many families struggling with their bills, free and accessible public library space is at a premium. Children learn to read at the library and students come for a safe, quiet place to study. Public access computers allow those on low income to apply for jobs, find housing and bridge the digital divide. We support small business through research help, foster local democracy with election events and save residents tens of millions of dollars per year by providing them access to learning, socializing and entertainment that they would otherwise be paying for out of pocket.

Budgets are tight and the City is struggling but Thunder Bay spent more money this year on the James Whalen Tugboat than it did on the entire capital budget of the library. For those who see love the library and see the value we bring to the community, now is the time to stand up and let your City Councillors know how you feel. The Library is where community happens and we need to save our community.

Richard Togman is the chief executive officer of the Thunder Bay Public Library

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