After 20 years of cuts, time to re-invest in our public library, authors tell Toronto's Budget Committee by video

TORONTO, Dec. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - Using an innovative method of deputation, the Toronto Public Library Workers' Union (TPLWU) brought the views of several Toronto authors to the City Budget Committee yesterday. Library workers who had signed up to give deputations to the committee played short excerpts of video interviews with authors conducted during the Word on the Street book festival held in Queen's Park this September.

"Toronto City Council could spend money in lots of important ways but libraries would be close to the top of the list," said Terry Fallis, whose debut novel The Best Laid Plans was awarded the Stephen Leacock Medal in 2008 and was tagged by Canada Reads as the "essential Canadian novel of the decade."

Fallis was joined in his message of more support for the library by several other writers: Jennifer Lanthier, an award-winning Canadian children's author, Stephen Marche, novelist and Esquire columnist, and best-selling mystery writer Linwood Barclay.

"I understand that politicians have to make difficult decision on where to put our tax dollars, but the return on investment in the Toronto Public Library is huge," said Toronto-born Lanthier, whose Hazel Frump Adventures series books have been featured in elementary school reading programs and competitions across North America.

Using video was a way to expand on what TPLWU's members have been explaining about the abandonment by political leaders of basic public library principles, explained O'Reilly. Those principles are: equal access for all, and not allowing the community's reservoir of knowledge to fall behind, at the expense of future generations.

"We were given three minutes per deputant to address the committee about the single most popular and utilized public service in the city," said O'Reilly. "We needed to marshall a lot of respected opinions in that three minutes and the authors really stepped up to the plate. They amplified what our members have been explaining for many years. We hope the committee was paying attention and begins to reverse the 20 years of library budget cuts."

The three-minute limit prevented TPLWU from showing its four-minute animated video, Our Public Library, made by Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning Canadian artists James Braithwaite and Josh Raskin. The video premiered to a prolonged ovation at the Forum on the Future of the Toronto Public Library held in a packed City Council Chamber on November 24th. It is available on YouTube and on the Save Our Library campaign website: OurPublicLibrary.to.

"Three out of four Toronto residents are opposed to any cuts to our library system," said O'Reilly.

"There were 50 times more visits to the library in 2010  than there were votes for Mayor Ford. No Councillor will lose votes by supporting reinvestment in this great public service."

The Toronto Public Library Workers Union Local 4948 represents over 2200 staff at the 98-branch Toronto Public Library, the most popular, by visits, library in North America.

SOURCE: Toronto Public Library Workers Union

For further information:

Contact: Maureen O'Reilly, 647-206-7457.

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