The Library Listens; the Library Responds

The Library and all residents of Cavan-Monaghan are lucky to have a local newspaper.

The disappearance of local reporting is a very unfortunate trend. And last month’s article (Frustration over Library budget mounts) offers the Library and its Board the opportunity to once again help readers know more about the Library; what it offers and how it operates.

Public libraries in Ontario are governed by boards, a group of volunteers who are all residents and taxpayers. This governance is enshrined in the Public Libraries Act (whose proud history begins in 1882). Our Board puts in many hours to ensure the Library is delivering the kind of services our residents deserve; as well the Board in close co-operation with the CEO, Karla Buckborough, must make sure all legislation is being followed. The current Library Board is: Lynda Allair, Ryan Matheson, Scott McFadden (Council representative), Jessica Polak, Glen Spurrell (Board chair), Rob Swaffield, Michelle Watson.

Last month’s article spoke about frustration and exasperation. The budget approval period is always a difficult time of weighing and balancing competing priorities. Council voted to withhold the release of the remaining 1/3 balance of the Library’s Operating Levy request as well as the total budget for books and DVDs “until Council has received and reviewed further information related to the Library.” However new information has just come to the Board via our Council representative, Mayor McFadden, that this “further information” is not something to be supplied by the Board. No new budget is demanded as was erroneously reported.

The “isolation” reported last month is something the Board has been trying to rectify. Indeed a consultant’s report in 2013 recommended to the Township that the Library CEO sit in on their management team. We entirely agree and have been trying to advance this.

Two references to previous years’ budgets deserve some comment. In 2020, from March 17th the Library was closed to the public as mandated by law; but the CEO had her staff working from home doing online training, updating the website, offering daily Facebook programming, ordering books etc. The Board was in close contact with the CEO to ensure that the workload was sufficient to warrant staff not being laid off. Staff were back in the branches as soon as possible in April and curbside pickup of materials began in mid-May. As for exceeding our 2020 budget, that is simply because we stopped having staff move between branches. This was done to limit potential exposure to COVID; but it did require a small number of additional staff hours.

Last month’s article notes that our first budget request for 2021 was for a 9% increase. Please note that increase was only on the Operating expense side; and what that neglects to explain is that the Library’s Capital expense side was reduced by 43% from 2020. Therefore, taken together, the Library was asking for a total increase of $1,182.

The Library Board and staff are proud of the services we provide to residents. And we know it is real value for money. We continue to work hard to deliver what residents want: in the words of our mission statement “in-branch and online resources, spaces, programs and services to enrich their lives.”

By members of the CM Library Board

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