Books

In my previous post I described how our public library is a vital city service and I voiced my concern about the 0% budget. The library (and every other city service) is being mandated to hit a 0% 2013 budget, which will result in service cuts (as laid out in this statement on the library’s website).

Please consider this important issue. Please get involved and contact City Council to let them know how you feel about the cuts to the London Public Library (and other services vital to our city) to reach a third 0% tax freeze this year. This page has a guide to the city’s wards and how to contact City Council, and below is the letter I have submitted to council. You’re welcome to use it as a template if you’d like to!

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To London City Council,

I write today to ask that as you shape our 2013 budget, you consider how much the public library means to Londoners. In 2011 (according to the library’s website), 3.2 million people visited a library location, 1.31 million people asked library staff for help finding information, 4.25 million items were borrowed, 192,000 people attended a program, 972,000 holds were placed on items, 567,000 uses of library computers were logged, and 4.5 million people visited the library website. Absolutely stunning numbers!

As well, they write that “London has the highest annual library use per capita in Ontario at 40.6 annual uses per capita (median use is 28.1), according to the most recent OMBI report. London has the lowest operating cost per use in Ontario at $1.27 per use, according to the most recent OMBI report. In a 2012 survey, overall public satisfaction with library service was at 97.9%. 96.3% of people surveyed felt that the Library gives good value for taxpayer dollar spent.”

Our public library is so much more than just the books on the shelves. Libraries are a gateway to early literacy, social programs, and continue to be one of the key community hubs for a city. Libraries are also important community centres, with classes for numerous social skills, job search portals, community lectures, research centres, and much more. In London, we’re fortunate to have a central library that includes a community lecture and performance hall, as well as easy access to city and county records and archives.

I write to you to ask that you would consider this as you examine the hard budget decisions before you. I understand that you want to ensure that tax payer dollars are spent in the most efficient and appropriate ways possible, which is absolutely commendable. However, I’m concerned that without proper funding for our library as well as our public safety, transportation and community service programs, we will pay much more in the long run by running ineffective programs stretched beyond their means, failing to serve the people that rely on these services.

As you consider the public library and how important it is to our city, please also examine the overall cost the goal of 0% tax increase will have on our city. As we get into the budget process, London Public Library, London Transit Commission, London Community Foundation, Pillar Nonprofit Network and United Way London & Middlesex have all spoken out against the path to 0% and the cuts that will be necessary to reach the target this year. More organizations will likely join them as the budget process continues, and the cost that will be born by London’s most vulnerable.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely,

Brian Gibson, Ward 2

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Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for considering this important issue. The budget process impacts us all, and the decisions we make now will impact our city for years to come. The great thing is that there are many ways to get involved!

There are several public participation meetings over the next two months, culminating in the final budget approval February 28th. The link has all the important dates, and all sessions will be streamed live. These are a terrific opportunity to see Council in action and to see first hand the decisions they’re making on the budget. Today the first public participation meeting starts at City Hall at 4pm, with many community groups and organizations slated to speak to the budget and the impact it will have.

You can  also e-mail, Facebook, call (Financial Planning @ 519-661-4638) and Tweet (@CityofLdnOnt) to the City budget teams with your ideas. If you’re on Twitter, you can also use the hashtag #LdnBudget13 to post your thoughts.

Please get involved London, and have your say!

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