With the exception of Controller Gina Barber who approved its submission in October, Board of Control must be commended for wading through the Library Board's 53-page Sustainability Business Case (PDF), released in October, detailing its request for a minimum 4.7 per cent or an "ideal" 6.4 per cent budget increase for 2008. Since its release, the request has apparently been adjusted to a 6.1 per cent increase, as argued before Board of Control yesterday by the Library's Chief Executive Officer, Anne Becker. This figure does not appear as any one of the alternatives in the October submission, so one can only surmise the specific threats to taxpayers contained in this latest request from the previous document.
Residents around small branches "came out in droves" to meetings held during the last year, Becker said. "They said … 'Don't touch our library.'"This is of course an entirely predictable response, even if it hadn't been invited by the Library, when the costs of services to a minority are distributed at large for them.
At the same time that the Glanworth Branch closure and reduced operating hours at smaller branches and for the Telefact service are threatened under the 4.7 per cent increase, the proposal would provide for new Monday openings at four larger branches, whereas the "ideal" 6.4 (or 6.1?) per cent increase would simply maintain all current operating hours. Confusing? Well, yes, but then clarity is not a Library objective. "Capacity utilization" of "community needs," however, is a primary Library objective. What this means, precisely, is best left to the imagination — where, of course, it is meant to be for the optimal suggestive effect — although it will probably have something to do with further accommodations of vagrants and drug users. All we know is that under both the 4.7 and the 6.4 proposed increases, capacity utilization is achieved. Hoorah!
What "community needs" means in reality is that the Library is simply following the City's ambition to be all things to all people, which is why shouldn't be surprised to see the Library's gambit succeed just as well this year as it did last year… and the year before, and the year before, etc. Why should the City discipline its departments when it will not discipline itself? It always bears repeating that the Library has received an average annual increase of 4.8 per cent over the past five years, which begs another question: When will the pace of the community's needs finally match the pace of its resources?
It's also interesting to see that the Library's manipulative and emotive strategy has been adopted by Windsor's Library Board as well.