Beyond books: Why library funding cuts impact more than just readers


    The Ontario government cut funding for the province’s two public library services in half this month to help tackle its deficit.The news came as a shock to many, including NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose criticism, in particular, highlighted how fundamental libraries are to the communities they serve.Story continues below

    It would be a mistake, says John Pateman, chief librarian at the Thunder Bay Public Library, to think of libraries solely as places that lend books, just as it would be a mistake to pretend the service cuts won’t affect libraries across the province.READ MORE: Funding for library services slashed by half in Ontario budget“Any reduction in those resources will get passed on, at some point, to the library,” Pateman says.“There’s a horrible way in which governments who’ve got this austerity mindset see libraries as a simple cut — a soft cut — not understanding there will be short, medium and long-term impacts that will probably cost them more.”The problem, says Pateman and a handful of other experts in the field, is that while libraries have been transitioning into community hubs, becoming one of the last free and truly welcoming public spaces in an increasingly polarized world, not everyone thinks of them beyond a place to borrow books.WATCH: The importance of encouraging your kids to read and write Beyond books: Why library funding cuts impact more than just readers