Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library Support and Expansion

NEW! Town of W-S Public Consultation, Thu., Feb. 20, 2014, 7-10 pm, Eastridge Church, 12485 10th Line, Stouffville (pdf), on Public Library /Leisure Centre Expansion

Background below -- our 2011 Library Petition to Town Council (NEW: with updated information & links)
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Purpose: To raise awareness of the significant materials, space, and staffing needs of the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library, and of long-term funding neglect.


(Our 2011 Petition): We, residents of Whitchurch-Stouffville, petition Town Council to develop and approve a plan to increase per person library funding to the provincial average by 2015, and to begin immediately to develop plans for a library expansion (click to sign online petition)




This petition reflects the "key issues" identified by the Library in the 2011 Budget Plan (p. 235): "Adequate funding to sustain and grow the Library; Staffing limitations; Space constraints" (NB: "sustain ... library" already added 2009; see also Board SWOT Analysis)
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2013 Update
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Summary:
  • Current facility: 15,425 square feet (incl. shared municipal space), built in 2001 (town pop: 22,859). Today's population is 44,000. 
  • Provincial guidelines: 65,625 sq. ft minimum for a central, stand-alone library building in Ontario, serving between 35,000 and 75,000 residents (i.e., 5x larger than current library = size of new Canadian Tire Store with Garden Centre!)
  • Expansion plans have been postponed annually since 2007: first to '09, then '10, then '12, then '14, and then this year revised to 2015--past the four year term (and accountability) of present council
  • In 2011 first new full-time position created in over a decade--but only at the cost of flat-lining material acquisitions at 2010 levels and cutting back hours of part-time employees.
  • 2001 (pop. 22,859): 9.61 staff (full-time equivalent); Library visitors in person: 100,150; circulation: 116,166 
  • 2008 (pop. 32,000; up 40% from '01): 9.91 staff (up only 3% from '01); Library visitors in person: 173,300 (2008; up 73%); circulation: 171,198 (up 47% from '01)
  • Provincial guidelines: 1 staff per 2000 residents, or 22 Library staff (FTE) for W-S's current population of 44,000. In 2011, the Library was able to hire a 10th staff (FTE).
  • Library portion of Town's operating expenses dropped from 5.1% in 2004 to 3% in 2007 and to an historic low of 2% in 2011.
  • Between 2009 and 2010, per capita funding for the Library dropped 8%, from $25.43 to $23.44. In the same year, Recreation programming & facilities increased 34%, from $127.06 to $170.33
  • Between 2006 and 2010, per person expenditures for the Library has declined from $29.39 to $23.44. In 2009, we were 43% below the provincial average for communities our size (2010 BMA, p. 124; compare 2013 BMA Municipal Study). In contrast, W-S's recreation programming and facilities funding has averaged 11% above the provincial avg. levels. 
The Library Board's 2009 SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis notes the following key weaknesses and threats:
  • "Limited space, ... continuous under-funding affect[ing] staffing and resources, ... disconnect/lack of shared vision between library board/staff and municipal council/staff" (p.15).

A pillar of the Town's corporate strategy since at least 2006 has been "balanced growth and community sustainability." The Library plays a critical role in community sustainability--intellectual, social, and cultural.
In each of the last three years, the Library Board/ Administration has drawn attention to the significant threats and weaknesses to this aspect community's social infrastructure (Budget Reports 2009'10'11).
It is now time for Town Council to act.

Petition Coordinator: Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, PhD, MA

    Next steps: Please continue to make your views known to the mayor and ward councillors;

    High school students in particular should let council know if the Library is sufficient for your academic and meeting needs.

     
Bkgd to Jan 2012 Town Budget Meeting: (see budget here, pp. 225-238).