$50-million, 5-year capital investment needed to meet public demands for library services|
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At the Budget Advisory Committee meeting today, City of Toronto Budget Chair
David Shiner asked for a $50-million, 5-year capital funding plan in response
to the pressures faced by the Toronto Public Library to maintain current level
of services. In its 2003 budget presentation, the Toronto Public Library
highlighted the substantial increase in the usage of all the services they
provide to their communities since amalgamation.
In requesting the report, Budget Chair, Shiner stated that, "We recognize that
libraries serve an important role in our communities. Council needs to commit
to a long-term plan to maintain and refurbish our older branches, many of which
are looking very tired. Our libraries must keep pace with public expectations
and manage the huge growth in the use of their services."
Over 18 million visits were made to Toronto public libraries last year which is
up by 15 per cent since amalgamation. Circulation of library materials is also
up by seven per cent for a total of 17.5 per cent over the last 4 years and
visits to the library web site increased by 796 per cent over the same period.
City Librarian, Josephine Bryant stated, " Demand is soaring. Our biggest
challenge is maintaining current level of services. Even with the 24/7
availability of our web services, walk-in visits have continued to increase.
All these dramatic increases exert tremendous pressure on our buildings, our
staff and our services."
Of the 98 existing branches, only 31 are less than 20 years old. Twelve of the
branches are more than 80 years old. Only 40 branches have undergone any major
renovation in the last ten years. Capital expenditures would be required bring
electrical standards up to date for the use of computers, to improve heating
systems, refurbish worn out furniture and to undertake basic building repairs.
Councillor Shiner indicated that capital improvements would serve to bring our
library infrastructure in the City up to required standards. "We need to
maintain our libraries as accessible, safe, relevant and
environmentally-friendly places for all who use them on a daily basis," said
Librarian Bryant agreed to submit a multi-year capital plan to the Budget
Advisory Committee in January to be considered for the 2003 Budget.
For information on the City Budget, go to the City of Toronto Web site,
http://www.toronto.ca and click on the City Budget link.