LTE: Library board betraying ‘mainstay’ of small communities

Dear Editor:

As you may be aware, we have been advised by the SD&G Library Board that the Morewood, St. Andrews West, and Dalkeith library branches will be closed as of September 3rd, 2016. Congratulations to the SD&G Library Board! Once again you have betrayed the library community of SD&G and behaved very unprofessionally. Can you not follow established practices, policies or public consultation prior to making major decisions of this nature?

The current mission statement of the SD&G Library is as follows:

“Our Mission is to be actively engaged and make a significant contribution to the social and economic success of the community by providing free, convenient and equitable access to information for all residents as well as programs and services that support creativity, imagination, innovation and entrepreneurism.” Nowhere in this statement do we find the closing of libraries as part of the SD&G Library mission. Why then is the Board Chair stating publically that the branches indicated will definitely be gone as of September 3rd, 2016. In fact, it is suspected that library administration has already begun removing resources from St. Andrews West.

Has SD&G County Council recently requested that the Library Board close branches? Not to my knowledge they haven’t. The current SD&G Warden, and South Glengarry Deputy Mayor as Board members, both voted to retain the branches. The Mayor of South Stormont will also be providing support for local branches at the SD&G County Council meeting to be held in Cornwall on August 22nd, 2016. Library Strategic Plans come and go, but the main mandate of any library service is to provide access to their resources, not close branches.

These small branch libraries located in our small rural communities are more than just places! They are the mainstay of our small communities in which they are located. These “disposable” branches are the front porches of our communities. They are places we can walk to for those of us without transportation, where we meet one another and get to know our neighbours, where we share our love of reading, knowledge, recipes, crafts, etc., where we take our children to give them the gift of learning to read and life-long learning, where we have access to computers, photocopiers, fax machines, important for those on fixed incomes. Each time a branch is closed, the negative ripple effect it creates for residents, users and the community as a whole is overwhelming.

This continuous upheaval regarding libraries within the counties has got to stop! Previously, these small towns decided they needed a library for their residents. What makes Library Admin and the Library Board think that this rationale has changed? All is quiet for awhile, and then all hell breaks out again –the midnight movers arrive to clear the resources out the building and lock the doors.

In closing, it is hoped that members of the SD&G County Council can appreciate the need for these small library branches to be retained in their local communities and will instruct the Library Board accordingly. It is also hoped that all of the County Council members will insure that no branch libraries in SD&G will close now or in the future without a great deal of forethought and meaningful public input and consultation prior to any final decision making.

Doreen Liberty
South Dundas resident