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Toronto Stands Up for its Libraries

By Lindsay Gibb

Toronto's kinda freaking out right now.

We've long been anticipating a list of potential cuts throughout the city as proposed by KPMG, a consulting firm the city hired to suggest money saving measures for Toronto. On that list of fears was the Toronto Public Library system, which many were suspecting to hit the chopping block with suggestions of privatization and branch closures, particularly after Mayor Rob Ford's brother (councillor Doug Ford) famously complained, “I’ve got more libraries in my area than I have Tim Hortons.” A group called Our Public Library (sponsored by the Toronto Public Library Workers Union) started Project Rescue, a petition and awareness campaign to save the library from privatization which, according to the most recent tally, has racked up over 15,000 electronic signatures so far.

Yesterday the final consultants report on city services came out and, sure enough, the library is on the laundry list of things that could potentially face cuts. While privatization doesn't seem to be a direct recommendation, reducing service, cutting hours and closing some branches are on the list.

As an avid library patron and fan, a current library and information science student and part of Broken Pencil (which helps the Toronto Reference Library to promote and build a zine collection), I'm clearly pro-library. In fact, I wrote a love-letter to the library a few issues ago.

So, sign the petition, but more than that, frequent your local library and, if you're in Toronto, write to your councillor to see what his or her take is on the state of our libraries and voice your concern over the reduction of essential services like this for the community.

And while you're at it, check out the potentially coolest library design ever.

July 22, 2011

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