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.
| Elizabeth Abbott
Cathy Marie Buchanan
Veronika Martenova Charles
Kristen den Hartog
Sonia Di Placido
| Terri Favro
Judy Fong Bates
Gale Zoe Garnett
Amy Lavender Harris
Joan Levy Earle
Sharon E. McKay
| Susan Ouriou
Bev Katz Rosenbaum
Zoë S. Roy
Emily St. John Mandel
Natalie Zina Walschots
Robert Paul Weston
For further information:
Jim Thompson 613-447-9592