Category Archives: Library and Community

Ontario Government giveth and taketh away.

The Ontario government has obviously learned nothing from what happened in Saskatchewan the past few weeks. In a bid to win votes the Ontario government in 2016 opened voting to ideas on where to put funding for various projects. One such proposal was Infrastructure for Rural and Northern Libraries. This sounds great, but is it?

It has been reported by the Toronto star that to fund a 1 million dollar investment in Rural and Northern Libraries they are taking money from a big city library: the Toronto Public Library. (Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2017/05/02/ontario-cuts-funding-for-toronto-public-library.html)

As a rural librarian why should I care? This is not an investment in libraries; this is a re-allocation of money. One time $1 million for rural libraries, Toronto public libraries lose $1.4 million. That is a $400,000 deficit to Ontario libraries (barring any new announcements we don’t know about).

This is good news for rural libraries, but bad news for overall Ontario libraries. The Toronto Library system represents approximately 2.7 million people(Census: 2016). That accounts for about 20% of the population of Ontario. Rural libraries may be cheering for this, and some people may even say “well Toronto has got too much for too long.” Cuts will be coming, and I bet they are going to hit rural library programs as much as they hit metro Toronto.

The Toronto Libraries offer so much digital information and programing tools that are shared with other libraries, such as the Toronto Reference Library, Digital Archives, Genealogy and the sharing of maker tools. These programs are likely the first to be cut as they appeal to non-tax payers such as us rural folk.

The Ontario government has pulled a fast one on us. one hand giveth, the other taketh away. We as a community of libraries have lost almost half a million dollars in funding. This is nothing compared to what was happening in Saskatchewan and New Foundland, but people need to speak up and mobilize. In a year or two that $1 million dollar investment will be gone, and I bet the government will not return the 1.4 million to Toronto or any other library without action from its people.

Update:
After some outcry from the public and some literary muscle leading the way (Margaret Atwood) the Ontario government has recinded the removal of funding for the Toronto Library.

Advertisements

Libraries and the age of Trump

Ok, so the only thing on the news, social media and in the office is how trump won and everyone is screwed. I personally think everyone is overeating and the problems of the American people, that have been there for quite some time, are finally at the forefront. Time to deal with your issues America.

This post is not a rant about trump. It is a post about what libraries can do while people are in crisis (real or imagined). A lot of people are scared, confused, and just going nuts over the election results. Libraries all over America and the world can help alleviate some of this stress by being beacons of your community.

Libraries have long been centers for free speech, protection, education and freedom. In this time of hysteria we need to stand tall and offer people guidance and appeal to their real information needs. We need to remain calm so that these people can look at the situation, and move through this time of crisis. We should not take sides, but offer perspective to all who want it Left, Right, Democrat or Republican.

Libraries were there for the people when Huricane Katrina destroyed the east coast, Libraries were there when New Orleans was almost swallowed by the Gulf of Mexico, Libraries were there for those in Baltimore during the cities crisis. We stand together and are strong beacons of community, and we are here for the people now.

Pokemon GO and your library

So, the poke-ocalypse is upon us. People everywhere are playing pokemon go. It has united and divided people, it gets people moving and it is more additive the some illegal street drugs.

This game is taking the world by the bull horns and going off into left field. Aside from the stories about people playing pokemon go at a funeral, walking off a cliff, and being shot at (just check a news feed and you will see these among other nasty faults) the game is a pretty positive thing. It has also started bringing people back to community centers such as public libraries.

I am no Poke-nerd, but my understanding is many public places act as centers in the game known as poke stops and poke gyms. Some people at libraries have figured out that with so many people coming to the library now to catch pokemon why not use it to their advantage.

The Children’s Services Librarian at Fort Francis Public Library has started a pokemon scavenger hunt for kids. Another library I heard was having a Pokemon go tour and taking people on poketours of their area so people could get help finding the electronic little monsters in game.

My branch Librarian at the Laurentian Hills Library has been hosting pokemon card trading days for months, and now with pokemon becoming the big thing again I expect numbers to increase even more. She is also doing her own pokemon card give away by having kids take out books to win a chance at some cards.

Libraries can take advantage of these tech crazes. Not only are we well positioned in the public eye to do so, but we have a wealth of technical knowledge. Take advantage of these fads and phone based games. They can be used to facilitate library use, walk in traffic, and even some boosted circulation numbers.