Toronto's top writers urge City Hall to reject Public Library cuts

TORONTO, Jan. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - More than 120 of Toronto's best known literary figures have signed an open letter to Mayor Rob Ford and City Council to express their concern that proposed cuts to the Toronto Public Library will do grievous harm to one of the leading public libraries in the world and the people who use it.

The letter is posted on the website www.OurPublicLibrary.to, launched last summer as a protest against Ford administration-planned library cuts. Within four weeks of its launch, over 50,000 Torontonians signed the petition on the site, which briefly crashed when Canada's most celebrated author, Margaret Atwood retweeted a post about the petition to her more than a quarter million Twitter followers.

In their letter, the authors point out that in the absence of any proper evaluation of the real costs of cutting our public library, City Council has no business even considering budget reductions and should use a small fraction of the City's 2011 budget surplus to avoid potentially costly blind decisions.

The open letter to Mayor Ford and City Council has been signed by dozens of internationally recognized and award winning novelists, story tellers, and literary figures including Atwood, Scotiabank Giller Award winner Vincent Lam, Linwood Barclay, Susan Swan and Giller Prize founder Jack Rabinovitch.

"Torontonians love and need their library and do not wish to see it diminished, and this is yet another sign of that affection and demonstration of the importance of our public library," said Maureen O'Reilly, President of the Toronto Public Library Workers Union.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Mayor Ford and City Councillors:

We are concerned that cuts to the Toronto Public Library will do grievous harm to one of the leading public libraries in the world and the people who use it.  Please do not support budget proposals that would limit access to our public library or diminish it in any way.

The Toronto Public Library is so important for so many reasons that we are surprised and alarmed to know that there has been no evaluation of the potential costs of gutting library services and programs.  Will the cost of education rise as a result of the cuts?  How about the cost of settling newcomers?  Or the economic cost to the city's reputation?  Apparently, we just don't know because no one has produced a credible case that library cuts will actually save money.

With an expected 2011 surplus of more than $150 million, it is not necessary to make these cuts blindly.

Proposed library budget cuts represent only a small portion of the City's available surplus. We have the resources to maintain current library services throughout 2012 while we conduct a comprehensive, business-like study of the economic value of Toronto's library system to the city as a whole. The result will be that in the next budget cycle we can determine with confidence what, if any, cuts to library services make sense.

We urge you to support this rational approach to determining the future of one of the world's great library systems rather than supporting the current proposals that would blindly hack away at this cherished institution.

Yours sincerely,

Elizabeth Abbott
Margaret Atwood
Linwood Barclay
Michael Barnes
Bob Barton
Matt Beam
John Bemrose
Gail Benick
Jody Berland
Samantha Bernstein
David Bezmozgis
Ann Birch
Heather Birrell
Lorne Blumer
Gail Bowen
Allan Briesmaster
David Brown
Pat Brown
Cathy Marie Buchanan
Kathy Buckworth
Mary Byers
Barry Callaghan
Veronika Martenova Charles
David Clark 
Tish Cohen
Charis Cotter
Pauline Couture
Cheryl Cowdy
Susan Crean
Tom Crothers
Brian Day
Sandra Dempsey
Kristen den Hartog
Claudia Dey
Sonia Di Placido
Tom Douglas
Dan Dowhal
Glen Downie
Bernadette Dyer
David Dyment
Soraya Erian
            Terri Favro
Joy Fielding
Judy Fong Bates
Sylvia Fraser
Keith Garebian
Gale Zoe Garnett
Graeme  Gibson
David Gilmour
Susan Glickman
Katherine Govier
Sonja Greckol
Bob Hanke
Amy Lavender Harris
Maggie Helwig
Cynthia Holz
Maureen Hynes
John Jeneroux
Jan Kainer
Alexey Konkin
Bianca Lakoseljac
Vincent Lam
Jennifer Lanthier
Shari Lapena
Myrna Levy
Joan Levy Earle
Lesley Livingston
Rona Maynard
Seymour Mayne
Dennis McCloskey
Ken McGoogan
Sharon E. McKay
Maria Meindl
Ruth Miller
Fereshteh Molavi
Anne Montagnes
Esteve Morera
Colleen Murphy
Mahtab Narsimhan
Zoe Newman
Hal Niedzviecki
Liam O'Donnell

              Susan Ouriou
Karen Patkau
Shelley Peterson
Anna Porter
Kate Pullinger
Jack Rabinovitch
Ceta Ramkhalawansingh
Ray Robertson 
Gilbert Reid
Heidi Reimer
Peter Robinson
Bev Katz Rosenbaum
Robert Rotenberg
Jeffrey Round
Zoë S. Roy
Ron Ruakin
John Scully
Emil Sher
Philip Siller
Sharon Singer
Emily St. John Mandel
Linda Stitt
Patricia Storms
David Stren
Cordelia Strube
Johanna Stuckey
Susan Swan
Jeremy Tankard
Paul Vermeersch
Thom Vernon
Stephen Voyce
Susana Wald
Natalie Zina Walschots
Sylvia Warsh
Pam Watts
Robert Paul Weston
Erika Whitney
Sheila Wilmot
Mary Wood
Paul Zemokhol
Rachel Zolf
Eric Zweig

SOURCE Toronto Public Library Workers Union

For further information:

Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

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Toronto Public Library Workers Union

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