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July 21, 2009

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Library service cuts 'will hurt kids, seniors most'

TRAIL— The Trail and District Public Library Board’s plan to slash library hours by 50 per cent and cut staffing by 77 per cent to offset budget shortfalls will have an immediate negative impact on the Trail community, says the union representing Trail Library workers.

“Telling library patrons that Mondays and weekends are gone, and that they can only use their library on one evening per week, is pretty devastating for a small community,” says Jean Poole, president of Local 2087 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Effective August 1, the cuts are expected to impact services such as children’s programming, the home library service for homebound patrons, and computer access.

Poole says the staff cuts from 13 to three employees—including workers who have served library patrons for more than 20 years—will have far-reaching negative impacts. The three remaining full-time employees have been reduced to part-time.

“The library director has pretty much conceded that literacy programs like story time for children aged two to five years, and two teen book clubs, as well as elementary school visits, will be on the chopping block,” she says.

“What does that say about the priority we place on our children’s social and intellectual development? Or our respect for seniors, many of whom rely on the home library service to remain well informed and entertained? These needless cuts will affect everyone in the end.”

The Union will be calling on Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs and council to change the funding formula to protect library services. The Union is also urging Area B director Marie Christensen to approve funding so that Area B can pay its share of the shortfall.

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