Friday, November 19, 2010

Milton Public Library

November 17, 2010.  I attended my last Library Board meeting as a council appointee last night.  During my 7 years on the board there was tremendous growth in library usage.  For those who think the library might be in danger of becoming an anachronism, nothing could be farther from the truth.

The library is a community gathering place with 282,779 visits recorded this year. Whether to borrow books, use the internet, participate in conversation circles, programs, workshops, do homework, special events, the library is an integral part of the community. 

It’s amazing that library staff has been able to keep up. That they have is a clear tribute to their dedication.  From the 90’s when there was one full time employee (FTE) per 9000 people, today we have one FTE per 22,000 people.  And the Milton Library provides the fewest open hours of any comparable library in the GTA.

The frustration as a board member was in supporting the public’s wishes for increased hours of operation – only to see those hours cut during budget deliberations.

Given the number of councillors who campaigned this election to keep the Bruce Street Library open while promising a minimal tax increase, it will be interesting to see what happens during December’s budget deliberations.  Anything is possible with unlimited money. 

A little background on the Bruce Street location versus the new one on Main Street….
The decision to close the Bruce Street Library was made around 1999.  I was a member of Community Services Advisory Committee (CSAC) when we were presented with choosing the best of 3 possible sites for the proposed new Main Library.  It wasn’t a question of where to move the library – it had already been narrowed down to three sites.  CSAC members chose the Milton Hydro site as the best option. Oh, how different the answer would have been had the question been framed differently.

My thanks go to the dedicated and professional staff in the Milton Public Library System.

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