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Libraries campaign to keep provincial funding

B.C. public libraries have been waging a quiet campaign to save the funding they normally get from the Ministry of Education. They may know as soon as next month if the campaign has worked.

The campaign is a response to a provincial funding freeze that's already forced the cancellation of a library-trustee training program this summer. The B.C. Library Trustees Association is urging library boards, librarians, and library users to urge the government to restore funding.

The BCLTA has set up a 2009 Provincial Grant Freeze page on its website, providing fact sheets and news updates on the problem.

Meanwhile, the Fraser Valley Regional Library has created Don't pull the plug on libraries, where visitors can sign an online petition.

Library visitors are being offered postcards they can sign and mail to Victoria. CUPE has created its own support page, including a fact sheet on direct provincial funding to public libraries.

The total funding expected is $20.3 million and includes money for operating grants, technology, summer reading clubs for kids, and literacy programs. The BCLTA says:

The next phase in our advocacy work is to meet with the Minister Responsible for Libraries to discuss the current freeze on provincial per capita grants and the necessity of maintaining provincial funding in the fall budget.

We will also be issuing a press release and backgrounder to the provincial and local media in order to inform the public of the dire situation facing public libraries across this province.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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