The Canadian Library Association, provincial library associations, and communities across Canada are protesting against mass library closures planned in Newfoundland and Labrador. As the CLA statement says, “as a result of budget cuts announced by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 54 public library branches in the province will be closed. This is devastating for the people of the province.”
According to a report in the Library Journal, the cuts will leave “only 41 facilities to serve the entire province, under a plan being implemented by the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board (PILRB), which saw its federal funding slashed.” Newfoundland and Labrador has a currently estimated population of almost 530,000. Over 90 percent of the population reside on the island of Newfoundland, but the province comprises over 7000 islands, with the tiny communities on many of them vulnerable to disproportionate impact if their local libraries close. Public protests have already begun in smaller communities like Fogo Island, third largest island in the province after Newfoundland and Labrador. According to the Library Journal report, Newfoundland and Labrador also has Canada’s lowest literacy rate.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Library Association is covering the issue extensively, citing statements of support from organizations and professional bodies across the country. Whether the protests have any effect remains to be seen. So far, however, there have been no statements from the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial government indicating any retraction.