- information and advice to visitors
- reference and referral services
- outreach and partnership initiatives
In 2011, the first new full-time position was created at the Library 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. (Councillors Bannon and Hargrave, both long-time Library Board "Trustees" and councillors, voted against increased funding for this position).
Compare the following statistics from 2001 and 2009:
- 2001 Town population: 22,859
- Total paid library staff (full-time equivalent): 9.61 (close to the provincial average)
- Library visitors in person: 100,150
- Active cardholders: 10,055
- Circulation: 116,166
- Annual program attendance: 4,802
Eight years later in 2009, our town was in the middle of a population boom:
- 2009 population: 34,300 (up 50% from '01)
- Total paid library staff: 9.91 (up only 3% from '01)
- Library visitors in person: 173,300 (2008; up 73%; '09 stats not available)
- Active cardholders: 18,434 (up 83%; 2013: 24,458; up 33% from 2009)
- Circulation: 183,915 (up 58% from '01; 2014: 267,850 up 46% from 2009)
- Annual program attendance: 17,307 (2008; up 72%)
Despite a population explosion of 50% over eight years (2001-2009), library staffing in Whitchurch-Stouffville had increased only 3% to 9.91 full-time equivalent by 2009. One extra position was added in 2011, but this was only possible with extra cuts in materials and part-time hours.
The 2008 provincial average was 4.72 library staff per 10,000 residents. The provincial guidelines are slightly higher at one staff person per 2000 capita population served. Simply to remain "average", Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library should have had 15.1 staff in 2008, 16.2 in 2009, 17.2 in 2010, and 18.2 in 2011 (see W-S Public Library Operational Staffing Study, pp. 22, 8, 9, Nov. 2010).
Because of lack of funds, there are fewer and fewer "weekly service hours per 10,000 population"; in 2001= 34.31 hrs.; 2008=20.67 hrs. The library is not open before 10am, noon on Sunday, or after 6 pm on Friday (summer hours are even more reduced).
For historical perspective, in 1988 the Library employed 7 full-time staff and 4 part-time staff, and planned to hire an 8th full-time person that year, meeting the 1986 (and still current) provincial guideline. In 1998, Library staffing was only slightly below the guideline at 0.9 staff persons per 2000 (or 4.45/10,000), that is, 8.1 staff (FTE) serving a pop. of 18,642--less than half of our current population. In 2011, we fall short of the provincial library staffing average almost by half.
But we are not a "poor" community; some communities cannot afford average; we have simply chosen to fall well below the Ontario average, either because of other spending priorities, or--short-sightedly--to keep our taxes low. Based on 2006 Census data, the median household income of Whitchurch-Stouffville residents was $95,007, which was 37% higher than the Ontario median income of $69,156. Yet in terms of our library's staffing, materials, and space needs, we come out amongst the lowest in Ontario. Especially in the past five years, our Town Council has had other spending priorities and has allowed the library to whither in an increasingly populous, wealthy and educated town.
If this disturbs you, please sign our online library petition, contact the mayor and your town councillor (High School students in particular are encouraged in Oct /Nov. to contact municipal politicians, especially if you need to go to Markham to research your projects!)