Dale Kirby re-evaluating library sessions after angry walkout

Education Minister Dale Kirby says he's surprised that about half the people who attended a consultant session on future of libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador walked out in frustration.

Education minister says it's difficult to meet everyone's expectations on library consultations

Some attendees upset with the direction of the meeting to talk about the future of rural libraries walked out. 2:34

Education Minister Dale Kirby says he's surprised that about half the people who attended a consultant session on future of libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador walked out in frustration.

"It's difficult to meet everyone's expectations," said Kirby Friday.

People attending that Thursday night session were upset that EY, the consultant hired by the province to run the sessions, had very prescriptive questions and that no elected officials were there to hear their concerns.

Education Minister Dale Kirby says the province is reevaluating consultations on Libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Kirby said he's heard many of those concerns directly, and felt that if he or other MHAs were at the session, which was held in his district, it would hijack the consultations.

"If you have elected officials there — ministers in particular — it might evolved into something different," he said.

"People might not feel as open or feel the forum is open enough for them to provide their opinions."

The consultations were launched after public backlash to the province's plan to close half the libraries and save about $1 million per year.

'We're re-evaluating how the sessions are structured'

At a previous session in Bay Roberts some people were upset that the local MHA attended, Kirby said.

"At the other session there's frustration that there wasn't an MHA there, so we're not ever going to meet everyone's expectations but we will continue this process to try and provide the best forum we can to get the answers we need."

A couple walked out of the meeting after asking "If anyone here wants the libraries to close." (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Some people at Thursday's session were turned away because there wasn't enough room.

Kirby apologized to those who weren't allowed in and is promising another session

"We're re-evaluating how the sessions are structured and stuff, and if we need to make adjustments as we go along we'll do that," he said.

About the Author

Peter Cowan

CBC News

Peter Cowan is a St. John's-based reporter with CBC News.