LTE: Library meeting was held to ‘shut us up’

To the communities of SD&G:

All you need to know is the current Library Board members: Bill McGimpsey, Evonne Delegarde and Nolan Quinn do not listen to their constituents and do not care for their communities. They don’t care about current trends, smaller library branches, rural Ontario, and facts. The Director of Library Services, Karen Franklin, put forth recommendations to close 3 branches without any proper research and consultation and the Board stuck with their decision to keep 3 well-used branches closed within SDG.

They sat in their highbacked chairs, and didn’t bat an eye when Tina from Morewood implored them to not close her branch as it is her lifeline. Their stoic expressions never changed as Cal Martin, Brenda Noble, Leo Lehtiniemi and Debbie Courneyea brought forth heartfelt and logical arguments as to why the libraries should stay open. St. Andrews, Morewood and Dalkeith have dedicated users who haven’t complained that their services have been non-existent in the past 6 years. We are still waiting for an open sign. Yes, an ‘open’ sign was never given to our branch.  Now we need a big ‘closed’ sign. Programs were done by our Library Clerk – with a yearly budget of $100. Not the Service Delivery Technician, whose job this is as stated in her job description. Yet, the report to the County council showed the cost for programs at St.Andrews was over $3,000. Something is wrong.

Who is telling the truth? When you apply for the Library Board, you make a commitment to be an advocate for libraries. The mission statement for SD&G Libraries is to provide an equitable service for everyone, not just for those in larger communities. This action reeks of exclusion and is disgusting.

By closing 3 branches, they have taken away an important service that is well used and loved by 700 users in those communities. The Library Board and staff have left a huge section of SD&G empty of library services. To what end? What is the purpose of closing 3 branches? Is it solely because they are smaller branches? Or, is it to increase hours at other branches? We don’t know, as it was never disclosed and the plans continue to be hidden. But then again, maybe the question isn’t which libraries need more hours, maybe it is time to ask the people when they will most likely use the library. If they are providing a service for people, don’t you think the first step is to find out when the best times are for people to use them? Maybe it is time to use the tools at hand- i.e. the communications and marketing librarian, Susan Wallwork – to get more people to go.

Library Board and Staff: stop telling the community to do your job – do it yourself. Is that not the reason the staff at head office received those raises in February? Because they are supposed to be promoting the libraries, and getting people to use them- not intimidating the people of SDG with “use them or lose them” tactics.

It seems to be a simple enough concept but it was never done. A system such as this needs branches to complement each other, not be in competition with each other. When people are hired to manage a system like this and they only want to close branches, well maybe it isn’t the system itself but something else that needs changing.

I have to say, I am shocked and disgusted that the Library Board didn’t care or listen to the communities. They held a meeting, to just shut us up, and the Chair ended with “Life isn’t fair”. No, it isn’t fair but it should be just and this wasn’t just.

Jeannie Gagnon
Past Vice-Chairman, SD&G Library Board