An annual report from Haliburton County Public Library CEO Bessie Sullivan shows the library struggling to keep pace with demand for digital literacy programming.
“The growth of the Haliburton County Public Library has continued steadily over the last several years” the report reads. More and more pressure is put on the library to bridge the digital divide in the county and be the institution that ensures access to high-speed Internet for all people of the county. We understand that this role is important to the community but we lack the staff capacity to keep up with the demand for digital literacy programming. Examples of this programming are workshops in how to set up an email account social media efficiency online searching including research databases and how to use personal devices from e-readers to iPads.”
Since 2008 the library’s circulation has grown from about 70000 to about 160000 items a year. During the same period attendance for library programming has grown from less than 2000 people per year to some 6000.
While a recommendation for the creation of a programming co-ordinator position has been made “at the time there are no budgeted funds for this position so consideration was deferred.”
Funding for the library’s eight branches comes from the County of Haliburton.
“A programming co-ordinator would not only facilitate existing programming by providing staff support but could also organize expanded programming to meet identified gaps in the digital literacy learning” the report reads. “Over the next few months the results in terms of how the partnerships will benefit the library and whether the grant writing has been successful will give the library a better idea of where we are unable to meet community needs.”
According to the report library staff will continue to monitor the situation on a monthly basis and pursue low-cost and no-cost solutions through grant writing and community partnerships while keeping county council apprised of any budgetary impacts as soon as possible.
Net expenses for the library in 2016 were about $960000 with about $780000 of that coming from the county itself.
About $150000 came from provincial subsidies the remainder from other sources.
Haliburton County councillors are requesting a delegation at this year’s Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference regarding a provincial library funding freeze that has been in effect for a number of years.