Why libraries are essential now more than ever! Not only do they offer free educational resources to everyone, libraries are safe refuges for the homeless and underserved populations in many communities. They help boost local economies and play an important role in English & French language learning. Libraries also make communities healthier. They preserve history, and more importantly, truth and above all libraries help connect communities.
The following document outlines the Association of Manitoba Municipalities ’s position and recommendations on a number of important municipal issues relevant to the Sport, Culture and Heritage portfolio presented to Minister Cathy Cox in 2018 after public consultations were held by the minister in the province with stakeholders. This became a priority issue insofar as library funding and public access were concerned.
The AMM recommended the government:
❖ Increase provincial funding to the Rural Library Operating Grant Program; and
❖ Allow all library cards issued in Manitoba to be valid at any library that receives provincial Funding based on the following findings:
- As many libraries are evolving into community hubs that foster community relations and partnerships, the provincial contribution rate to the Rural Library Operating Grant Program has remained constant at $8.50 since 2004.
- In effect, this 14-year stagnation has resulted in additional burdens as municipalities are addressing these financial shortfalls through greater municipal contributions in order to not cut programming available to residents.
- Moreover, the stagnant level of funding combined with accessibility standards
mandated by the Province of Manitoba with no funding support further compounds the challenges facing community libraries.
- The AMM strongly encourages the Province of Manitoba to immediately take steps to increase the maximum provincial grant amount to better ensure libraries are able to keep their doors open in local communities.
- The AMM also continues to support a universal, province-wide library card system to increase efficiencies and facilitate library use.
- Precedents such as the “One Province, One Library Card” initiative in Saskatchewan have proven successful while library patrons are now able to receive faster, more convenient and more equitable access to public library services and materials.
The take away from this is that most municipalities are doing their share and assuming more fiscal responsibilities as the province continues to off load on them. If the MB Gov’t had increased their per capita funding at .25ç each year since 2011 they now would be @ 10.50/capita. In Bibliothèque Allard Library’s case as all three partners, Town of Powerview-Pine Falls, R.M. of Victoria Beach and R.M. of Alexander contribute $10.50/capita that means $9,342.00 more funding available for their operations.
Ratepayers pay for library services on their municipal tax bill and it is minimal. Although the province pays their per capita contribution based on the # of permanent residents only the municipality’s contribution is levied at large to all property owners. For most ratepayers it is the price of a cup of coffee! With the province kicking in their long overdue and fair share those evening hours could be made available @ Victoria Beach Branch library for all their patrons to enjoy.
MB Public Libraries 2016 Statistics are available on line give to give ratepayers information about hours open to the public, # of staff, expenditures,…..You will note that of the 7 listed below St-Pierre Jolys has a St. Malo Branch library as does Allard in Victoria Beach.