My Letter in the Ottawa Citizen

Here’s the letter I had published on page A13, column a in Saturday’s Ottawa Citizen.

Library service is failing

I am deeply concerned about the state of our city’s infrastructure and services. With successive years of sub-inflation funding, we’re living the two-centuries-old wisdom of Benjamin Franklin: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

A glaring example is our Ottawa Public Library, which fails to meet the needs and expectations of our growing and diverse community. Compared to readers in other Canadian cities, we travel further to a branch, especially in urban areas where many low-income and marginalized residents live. The alternative services that are supposed to fill the gap, such as bookmobiles and lockers, are unreliable and inadequate. No wonder the number of library cardholders is failing to keep up with our growing population.

The Library Board needs to lead and address issues that affect the quality and accessibility of the service. The City Council, which funds the library service, needs to be informed and involved in finding solutions and allocating resources. The library service is not a luxury, but a necessity for our community’s education, culture, and well-being.

John D. Reid, Ottawa

3 Replies to “My Letter in the Ottawa Citizen”

  1. You are not alone with dealing with city library services. In my city, the changes made have so distressed the library community that it has been front page news several times in the last two years. It has been nothing less than harrowing for many. Notably, withdrawn library books have been sent direct to the landfill.

    Keep up the pressure, John. You are much admired in Ottawa, I am sure.

  2. The province also needs to kick in more funding, but that may be a vain hope with Doug Ford in charge. Libraries here in BC have been lobbying the provincial government to increase its yearly funding to libraries as it hasn’t done so in well over a decade. To mitigate some issues, it has kicked in extra for a few years, but we need a permanent increase in funding, year over year.

    This issue is especially important given how governments at all levels continue downloading services onto libraries, as they’re the only free place people can go to access the internet and print off government forms, fax government forms, fill out the census etc. Not everyone has or can afford internet access at home. It’s frustrating.

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