City Manager defies Council on library branch closures and open hour cuts

TORONTO, Nov. 25, 2011 /CNW/ - City Manager Joe Pennachetti has endorsed a new consulting report that calls for the closure of 15 neighbourhood library branches and massive cuts to open hours across the Toronto Public Library system, despite the clear will of City Council and the Toronto Public Library Board, which has already rejected these options.

Consultants DPRA and LeisurePlan International Inc. tabled 15 recommendations today in a Service Efficiency Study for the Toronto Public Library. Their recommendations include:

  • Shutting libraries by more than 35,000 hours annually, almost double the cut originally proposed by the Library administration and recently rejected by the Library Board
  • Closing 15 neighbourhood branches
  • Eliminating many popular and educational library programs
  • Increasing fees and fines

A memo from Pennachetti obtained by the Toronto Public Library Workers Union urges the Chief Librarian to consider the consultant's proposals to axe hours and close branches, not this year perhaps, but in the future.

"The city's top bureaucrat is out of touch with the residents he is supposed to serve," said Maureen O'Reilly, president of the union. "Missing in all of these reports and recommendations is the public who love their library and are quite prepared to pay for it."

The Toronto Public Library system, the world's busiest, costs each city resident only 19 cents a day to operate.

"Mayor Ford's plan to cut 10 per cent of the TPL's budget would save each resident only 2 cent a day and would contribute less than one per cent to the city's deficit reduction efforts.  The consequences of these cuts, however, would be devastating to library users, now and in the future" O'Reilly said.

"Where is the respect for Toronto's taxpayers, who have made it crystal clear, through numerous polls, deputations, public consultations and tens of thousands of petitions and emails to the Mayor,  that they value their library and are more than willing to pay to preserve and even expand it?"

"The contempt for public opinion by the Ford administration is shocking and the attack on our city's most important and democratic cultural and educational institution is an historic tragedy."

SOURCE Toronto Public Library Workers Union

For further information:

Maureen O'Reilly 647-206-7457 or Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

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