Today’s local library hardly resembles yesterday’s book-borrowing depot. The books are still there along with CDs, DVDs, computers with free Internet, newspapers and magazines, the copy machine and a slew of programs for kids and adults alike.
Constantly adjusting to the needs of the communities, some libraries offer the services of a dietician who promotes ‘food literacy.’ Some staff are trained for ‘mental illness first aid.’ In Thunder Bay they’ve established an Indigenous Knowledge Centre.
Many libraries have ‘pop-up’ libraries where they take their services to people who can’t come to them. In Welland they have a lounge to showcase local musicians and in Port Colborne they purchased musical instruments for their family ‘make music jams.’ They also present seminars on housing and the homeless and last summer during the heat wave, they offered complimentary cold bottles of water.
Last fall I spoke at the Sheep River Library in rural Alberta where they had purchased an extensive selection of power tools for members who need them but can’t afford them. In Espanola they’ve set up three “Free Little Libraries” offsite and they also offer library programs for new mothers and daycare.
Time after time libraries have risen to the challenge of changes and underfunding to become the social glue that helps hold the fabric of our cities and towns together. And therein lies the problem. Ontario libraries have become such selfless centres of humanitarianism, Premier Doug Ford “Our Great Disruptor” decided they needed to be knocked down a notch.
Ruthless and reckless, “Doug The Knife” has gone after families of autistic children, needy people approved for the Basic Income Project, Francophones, Indigenous, low-income college students, hot meals for kids, teachers, healthcare agencies, the environment and endangered species of animals. He even killed a program to plant 50 million trees. Who needs trees when the snowy owls are extinct?
Now he’s going after our libraries. In fairness it was either that or put a head tax on the homeless and provide rubber crutches to seniors with mobility issues… for a fee, of course.
The 50% cut to Ontario Library Services funding means provincial public libraries will have to do away with the interlibrary loan and delivery programs as well as training for staff and volunteers. The 1.5 million the government will save is next to nothing, .01285% of the 11.7 billion deficit Ford is driven to eliminate.
When similar cuts were made in Britain, John Pateman now CEO of the library in Thunder Bay was there and witnessed the aftermath. As hundreds of libraries closed down and thousands of people put out of work, health and education plummeted in those towns as crime, drugs and teenage pregnancies increased.
It was left to Culture Minister Michael Tibollo to explain the hit on libraries: “We are keeping our promise to the people of Ontario … so that we can protect what matters most to Ontarions.” Yeah, Buck-a-Beer and bars that open at 9am!
First Tibollo would have to explain the concept of a library to our premier and then answer his immediate question with: “Yes, many of the books in a library do have pictures.”
Hey, I exaggerate. Doug Ford would know what a library was because when he was growing up in Etobicoke, there was one right across the street from the pool hall.
It was only eight years ago that the councilman Doug Ford led the charge to cut funding to Toronto’s 100 libraries enraging and engaging Margaret Atwood. Ford said he wouldn’t know the world-famous author if he passed her on the street.
Sadly, the most powerful person in Canada’s largest province was telling the truth. But if he ever met Hulk Hogan on the street, Doug Ford would likely give him a friendly wedgie and then beg for a cheek-to-cheek selfie.
Here then is how libraries can recoup their funding losses and win over Doug Ford’s approval.
• Effective immediately, all libraries will open at 9 am (not 10am) and the first ten members through the door will be treated to strawberry jello shooters at Happy Hour prices.
• All hand dryers in library washrooms will be replaced with slot machines and foot stools for the children.
• By Labour Day all current book delivery programs will be replaced by a rotating system of marijuana pop-up retail outlets. Smoking weed in library washrooms will be limited to those playing the slot machines.
• All libraries will now offer the “What Kid Doesn’t Love a Pony?” program complete with off track betting and TV simulcast racing from some of North America’s best tracks.
• During any and all summer heat waves free bottles of water will be replaced with cans of “Buck-a-Beer.” Limit six per customer. No ID necessary and the pretzels are free.
• All literacy and reading programs will hereby be replaced by 30 Ball Bingo and cash-only Half & Half Draws.
• The banning of ‘do good’ presentations of current social problems will be offset by a rotating schedule of Ontario cabinet members giving library lectures like “Revenge As a Political Strategy,” “Philistines Rock!”, “Pimping Out A Camper Van” and “Lame, Really Lame License Plate Slogans.”
• And finally, we anticipate the new programs will be so popular with members that all green space around Ontario libraries will be paved to provide parking for tailgate parties. All porta potties and puke basins will be coin-operated.
“Ontario – Yours to Raise From The Ashes In 2022.”
And For comments, ideas and copies of The True Story of Wainfleet
go to www.williamthomas.ca