“I’m disappointed in the way that it was announced,” said Mayor Dale Colbourne, of the decision to close the public library in St. Lunaire-Griquet.
“They didn’t even let the town hall know that they were closing and when it would happen.”
Colbourne herself first received word from a friend in St. Anthony.
“Other than that interaction, we would have never known,” she said. “We weren’t told anything.”
The public library, which was housed rent-free in Bayview Regional Collegiate, had its doors locked on Dec. 31. The present closure, according to Education Minister Clyde Jackman, is in no way related to budget cuts, but rather the direct result of the school closure.
The building is now being offered for sale by the NL English School District.
“I want to be clear that the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board (PILRB) has not yet made a final decision about the library,” stated Jackman.
Authority for all operational decisions around pubic libraries rests with the PILRB and, according to Jackman, the issue has been that no other rent-free space in the community has been identified.
“They will be looking at, and are willing to entertain, all options that does not mean an added financial demand,” he said, adding that the only options identified to date would require new funding to be allocated for new space — with preliminary estimates ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $14,000 a year for rent alone.
Government provides funding for library services to the PILRB to allocate, as they deem appropriate, and that allocation has not changed as a result of the situation in St. Lunaire-Griquet said.
It was previously reported that $5,000 would be saved each year as a result of the closure, but it isn’t the case if the PILRB decides it cannot justify allocating additional funds, from within its existing overall budget, to operate a library in the community.
“We provided a grant to this library, as we do to other libraries in the province, and that is still there,” said Jackman. “It has not been reduced and the board is looking for cost-neutral options.”
He said that it is now a matter of people coming up with alternatives.
“This library, as does all others, falls under the jurisdiction of the PILRB, and they will investigate and then make a decision from there.”
As of now, there have been no suggestions made.
The PILRB offers a “Books by Mail” service, as well as an e-service, whereby clients, regardless of their location, can order books and have them delivered. A service, as recommended by Jackman, that could avail of in the interim.
The Northern Pen