Councillor questions need for libraries in Delta
A Delta councillor has publicly questioned Delta’s share of the cost increase to the Fraser Valley Regional Library budget of more than $82,000 in 2013, suggesting public libraries may have outlived their usefulness.
"Well, at the risk of having books thrown at me tomorrow at I walk through Ladner... I kind of have the feeling that libraries are going the route of the video rental stores but I'm probably terribly wrong about that," he said at a municipal council meeting Monday evening (Jan. 14).
Paton then wondered aloud whether it makes sense to spend money on library resources when many people have access to information at home with personal computers and the Internet.
The 2.65 per cent increase to the budget puts Delta on the hook for nearly $3.2 million as its share of the just under $22 million budget of the FVRL, which shares resources with a dozen other regional municipalities.
“I’m one of these types that I don’t ever go into the libraries, but when I do drive by the Ladner library I say, wow, there sure aren’t that many people in there,” he said in a followup interview.
Paton said he doesn’t think people stop to think about how much it costs to run libraries every year.
“All of a sudden I realized, wow, we’re doling out $3.2 million a year to keep our three libraries in operation, which is a pretty big chunk of change,” he said, adding the FVRL keeps asking for more money each budget.
“I’m not some library hater or anything like that. But that’s sort of your job on council, to question staff and ask if we’re getting good use out of these libraries or are there enough people using them to justify doling out $3.2 million a year.”
In the municipal report, the $82,426 increase includes funding for a new IT systems analyst to coincide with the FVRL’s major computer system upgrades, including the Integrated Library System— a program that supports all library operations.
The entire FVRL budget is increasing 6.25 per cent in 2013, with a 20 per cent increase to Human Resources, a new library in Chilliwack, and a larger facility in Abbotsford. The library materials budget has been increased by five per cent.
[Note: This story was updated to correct a quotation error. Coun. Paton did not say libraries are going the way of the dinosaur. He compared them to the video rental store.]