Where the candidates stand on Libraries

IMG_0218
Library Allard in St. Georges. (file photo)

Manitoba Library Association Advocacy Committee created an Elections Toolkit that was sent out to public libraries on Sept. 18. This toolkit consisted of 4 questions all related to libraries for candidates running in the upcoming elections. Even though the Council for the Town of Powerview-Pine Falls and Ward 4 of the RM of Alexander were all in by acclamation the library board at Bibliothèque Allard Regional Library felt it important to send out these questions for all to have the ability to respond.

The following candidates ({RM of Alexander – Jack Brisco, Cheryhl Corrie, Kim Robertson, Gerald Goodfellow, Jill Whitford, Laurette Sundstrom} {Town of Powerview-Pine Falls – Don MacLellan, Gary Berthelette, Melinda Pluchinski, Howard Townsend}) did not respond to the request. The full question is only iterated the first time it is answered below. Subsequent answers include only an abridged version of the question.

For more information on Libraries and funding in the region, see the article Association of Manitoba Municipalities on Libraries.

RM of Alexander candidates

Raymond Garand (incumbent candidate, Reeve, RM of Alexander)

How often do you or your family make use of a public library? Which services offered by the library do you use?
My family does use the library on a casual basis. The institute is a very important part of our community as well as industry to understand our area. People really need a place to go and do research on the area they are in.

Michael Lauze (candidate, Ward 1, RM of Alexander)

How often do you or your family make use of a public library? Which services offered by the library do you use?
I am fortunate enough to be a father to 3 beautiful children ranging in age from 7 months to 8 years old so reading to them and teaching them the joy of reading is a very big part of our daily routine. On average we utilize a public library 3 times a week to sign out new books to read. I myself have always enjoyed reading from the time I was a young child to today.

Many studies have shown that investment in public libraries has a positive economic impact. (For example, a 2016 study conducted in Edmonton concluded that public library service in that city generated $$3.11 in economic value for each dollar invested in library’s operations.” A similar study about Toronto Public Library put the economic impact at $5.63 for each dollar invested.) What is your position on public library funding?
Public libraries are integral to our communities they are a location for learning and development, as well as access to technology that may not be available to everyone in our communities. Libraries need to receive proper funding from government’s so that they have the financial capabilities to expand and continue to develop the resources and services that they provide to the communities.

The Province currently provides public library funding of $8.50 per capita, maximum. According to the Manitoba Library Trustees Association, this rate has been frozen since 2004. How would you work with the Province on the question of funding for public library service?
Firstly, this is something that council needs to approach as a united body and work in partnership with the Manitoba Library Trustee’s Association and other Rural Municipalities and continue to lobby the province to sit down and work together to develop a new funding agreement that will work for public libraries as well as the government.

Public libraries support the communities they serve in many ways: providing access to information and technology, supporting literacy and learning for people of all ages and providing a community gathering spaces where ideas are exchanged, to name just a few. What is your vision for public library service in the RM of Alexander?
I would love to see the public library be able to expand hours of operations to later in the evening. While Bibliothèque Allard may be open later the library in Victoria Beach is closed early and is not open every day of the week. In our current times many of us work different hours and with limited economic opportunities in the municipality many of us have to travel outside of the R.M. to find gainful employment. With this being said many people unfortunately cannot go to the library with the current limited times. An increase in funding would most certainly aid in this problem that we face.

Gordon Kaye (candidate, Ward 2, RM of Alexander)

Thank you for the e-mail and I can assure you that when I am campaigning I will include the message for support or our library. I will also remember to assist you in every way when I get elected to ward 2.

Ken Danwich (candidate, Ward 2, RM of Alexander)

How often do you or your family make use of a public library? Which services offered by the library do you use?
No currently we do not belong to the library – but we do read and read a lot- I am an avid newspaper reader as well we buy a lot of books and when we are done reading we donate our books to various local charities for their book sales, as well we purchase books from them . We also have an e-reader but still prefer holding that book in our hands. And yes, I will be joining the library – thanks for the reminder!!

How would you work with the Province on the question of funding for public library service?
It was disappointing to note in your communication that funding from the Province has been frozen- at the very least funding could be based on inflation. I would work with the RM Council to encourage the Association of Manitoba Municipalities to lobby our current government to correct the funding shortfalls and to have a firm policy re annual funding going forward.

What is your vision for public library service in the RM of Alexander?
I would like to see longer summer time hours in the Beaches area – maybe adding one evening a week -as well an extensive membership campaign to reach our large cottager population. I would be more than willing to go to each of cottage owners associations and community clubs in all of Alexander with library personnel to explain all the various functions of the library and to encourage greater membership.

Mac Kinghorn (in by acclamation, Ward 4, RM of Alexander)

How often do you or your family make use of a public library? Which services offered by the library do you use?
I have not used the Library Allard other to attend meetings in the board room. This would also apply to the Lac du Bonnet Library. It should be noted that I have donated books to the Lac du Bonnet Library, which is the closer library to my place of residence. I am also aware that there are various programs and events run out of the Library Allard such as the LEGO Skills, I believe an after-school program and events such as the Annual Crèche show put on coming up to Christmas.

How would you work with the Province on the question of funding for public library service?
It is my understanding that the RM had carried a Debenture for the Library of $250,000 which was paid out in 2015. In 2018 the RM provided Grants of $3,000 to cover the costs of a summer reading program as well as some signage. The contribution made to the library by the RM based on a per capita format was $35,829.75 based on a population of 3,300 or approximately $10.86 per person, which is somewhat above the provincial per capita of $8.50. It is also my understanding that the Province provided funding in the amount of $42,899.50. It is further my understanding that the RM of Vic Beach provided funding in the amount of $4,278.50 and the Town of PVPF funding in the amount of $14,147.00. I believe that these two amounts were also based on a per capita formula.

What is your vision for public library service in the RM of Alexander?
I do believe that the Library is a needed resource to the community and plays a vital role in the development of youth within the community. Programs are needed to be implemented regarding to social media and how to access and use it. I do like the idea of programs such as the LEGO program and feel that this is something that could and should be expanded. Have the Crèche display and other events of this nature is vital to bringing community members into the museum and in making it a vital component of the community. At this time the provincial government has displayed a great reluctance in maintaining and or increasing ongoing funding programs. Should this change I would support a resolution of Council to request the existing per capita funding model be reviewed and increased accordingly being that the current per capita funding of $8.50 has been in place since 2004.

Diane Dubé (candidate, Ward 3, RM of Alexander)

How often do you or your family make use of a public library? Which services offered by the library do you use?
My family visits the library at least twice a week for books, magazines and sometimes just for a visit. I am fortunate to work with a dedicated group of volunteers who help set up exhibits @ Library Allard throughout the year for patrons and visitors alike to enjoy.

What is your position on public library funding?
Library Allard celebrates its 35th Anniversary this year and needs a boost moving forward to be able to continue the programming that is must in order to remain current and relevant to the community. An analysis of per capita funding for other libraries in other regions of the province should be presented to council for their consideration in their upcoming budget.

How would you work with the Province on the question of funding for public library service?
Municipal Councils have the opportunity to bring forward resolutions at the AMM Conference each year and each year there is at least one pertaining to library funding. It’s hasn’t worked as the Province has chosen to ignore those requests instead of stepping up and matching what the municipalities contribute to their libraries. As a region the R.M. of Alexander could jointly lobby to have a meeting with Minister Cathy Cox requesting that they at least match and change that per capita from $8.50 to at least $10.50/capita.

Public libraries support the communities they serve in many ways: providing access to information and technology, supporting literacy and learning for people of all ages and providing a community gather spaces where ideas are exchanged, to name just a few.

What is your vision for public library service in the RM of Alexander?
Library Allard has become the community’s living room over their 35 years of operations very successfully and has become that essential service for many families in this municipality. The deck and park area could be enhanced to be used to its fullest potential for many outdoor education activities and for every age group. Library Allard’s Strategic Plan has outlined many projects in their vision for the future and it should be revisited especially with the new people coming on board. The staff is very in tune with what their patrons want and should be consulted to facilitate that process.

Town of Powerview-Pine Falls Council members

Lorie Finkbeiner (in by acclamation Ward 2, Town of Powerview-Pine Falls)

How often do you or your family make use of a public library? Which services offered by the library do you use?
Ever since learning to read, I have been a regular user of first the small classroom libraries, then the public library. Since returning to Pine Falls and becoming a member of the Allard Library, I have visited the library at least once a month, although the past year has seen a temporary drop in my visits. I have not taken full advantage of the wide range of programming offered by the library but have taken one evening class and attended several of the special events. With every visit, I am reminded that I want to visit more often!

What is your position on public library funding? How would you work with the Province on the question of funding for public library service?
My position on library funding is twofold. First, relating to direct funding from the municipal partners, I firmly believe that libraries are a vital part of our community, valuable to citizens of all ages, and should be supported accordingly. Even for those who do not personally use the library, it is impossible to ignore the economic impact research. For the past several years, our community has provided funding based on a per capita contribution, and I am committed to encouraging our continued support. On a broader base, I agree that the province’s contribution level must be reviewed and increased. I support the library’s continued lobbying efforts and will take any opportunity to speak directly to the minister or department officials responsible for libraries.

What is your vision for public library service in the RM of Alexander?
I believe our community is incredibly fortunate to have such an excellent library, and I am grateful to those individuals and partner municipalities responsible for its creation and growth. It now serves as an important community hub, providing resources far beyond simply lending books (an invaluable resource in itself). Children and adults of all ages benefit daily from the services and programming provided by our library and its staff. My hope is that we as a community continue to appreciate and support the library as it continues to evolve with our community‘s changing needs.