Background Info

Background and Statistics
Our town is growing at an astonishing rate, and our library has not been given the resources needed to keep pace. Since 2006, the town has added 238 new residents every month (from a pop. of 24,290 to 38,650).  Impressively, 55.5% of residents are library card holders (well above the provincial average); that translates to 133 new library patrons every month for the past five years. This will continue as the town plans to grow to 55,800 by 2021. 

Over this same period, the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library has fallen well below the provincial averages and guidelines in each of these three areas: staffingmaterials, and space. Why is this alarming? A library is much more than just another leisure facility on a town's wish-list. Historically, public libraries in Canada (and in Stouffville) have played a crucial role in the formation of an educated and literate population. Fostering of literacy and life-long learning in turn strengthens and stabilizes the community. A healthy, thriving, creative community requires a library with:
  • expert staff to find and interpret information; to provide professional assistance with research; to collect documents relevant to the community; to help people from different demographic groups (e.g., children, students, seniors) access relevant information, including information for a job search, for starting a business, and for much more;
  • leisure and informational resources in a variety of formats (books, digital archives, and electronic databases), accessible to all;
  • space to read, to gather, to study, to research, and to experience.
  • capacities to address the digital divide and helping individuals transition to a global, knowledge-based economy
This is only possible with sufficient, predictable fundingProvincial performance indicators show that the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library has the lowest per resident funding in the province when compared to libraries in similar sized towns. 

In 2009, the province-wide average “Operating cost for library services per person” for communities with a pop. of 20,000-50,000 was $44; Stratford was highest of these eleven communities at $66. Whitchurch-Stouffville was alone in last position at $25 per person (BMA Municipal Study, 2010, p. 124; next lowest was Georgina with $35/person), down from $28 in 2008 (click for summary). In 2010, our town's per capita contribution dropped another 8% to $23.44 per person, which takes us even further from the provincial average.

The 2009 Public Library Statistics published by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture also indicate that the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library has fallen well below the provincial average for staffingmaterials and space requirements. For example,  whereas in 2010 the W-S Public Library had 9.91 staff (full-time equivalent), the provincial average for communities our size was 21. The ability to buy and house materials is also a serious challenge: while our library had a collection of 87,558 books in 2009, the provincial average for comparable municipalities was 143,500. (Note: only the 2008 statistics are available online currently). In 2007, our library had 4.73 titles per person, and today that number is down to 2.64.

As the town grows, so do its infrastructure needs. Between 2007 and 2011, the town budget increased 80%, and municipal office staffing increased  by 58.14% (or from 2006 to 2011: 64 new positions). Yet during this same period of growth, only one extra library staff position was added (2011; first new FTE position in a decade). The library proportion of the town's operating expenses dropped from 5.1% in 2004, to 3% in 2007, and now to an historic low of 2% in 2011. 

These serious problems are compounded by higher than average use and program attendance.  

Performance compared to other Ont. municipalities with 30,001-50,000 pop.

Library uses
Program attendance/  card holder
Electronic visits
% Municipal pop. holding library cards
Provincial Avg.

W-S Library
(Based on W-S's 2009 population of 34,775)

Thus, while our town's per capita funding for the library has been decreasing annually and is far below the provincial average, the percentage of residents that are library card holders and users is much higher than the provincial average!

Each objective municipal and provincial performance indicator available shows unambiguously that the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library has been chronically underfunded, and that there is a significant deficit in terms of materialsspace, and staffing. This should be a concern for all people who care about the fabric of our community.

Please sign the online petition (or download the flyersummary, and/or petition) to bring about a change and to support our library!

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.