Nfld. & Labrador

Library closures not imminent, towns could take some over, says Dale Kirby

The minister of Education and Early Childhood Development says it's still possible the libraries up for closure could stay open, although school-run libraries will not be open to the public.
Education Minister Dale Kirby will speak to media late Monday morning to provide an update on regional provincial libraries. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dale Kirby says it's still possible the libraries up for closure could stay open.

Kirby said Monday that some of the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries branches are in a location that could allow for an easy transition for the municipal government to take them over.

He also said that a number of public libraries that are in schools may not close. 

Kirby said after funding from the provincial library board is cut, schools may chose to keep those libraries open, although he said they will no longer be accessible to the public.

"People have the misconception that school libraries are closing and that's not true," said Kirby.

Last week, the province announced funding to  54 of the province's 95 libraries is going to be cut.

Of the 54 libraries the province has up on the chopping block, 25 of them are within municipal buildings. In those cases, the towns could take over the operation and cost of the libraries.

Another 20 are within schools in the communities, 

The remaining nine are in stand-alone buildings.

Over the weekend, Liberal backbencher Scott Reid suggested on Facebook that the government should reconsider public library cuts.

Speaking with reporters Monday, Kirby said that will not happen.

"The budget is not going to be reconsidered," he said. 

"What's in the budget is in the budget — that's my understanding. Education and Early Childhood Development's budget is not under reconsideration."

According to Kirby, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District will work with local groups to provide public access at 20 school libraries.

Kirby added the province has twice the number of libraries per capita, but half the funding, than other jurisdictions.

He said the library cuts are a "devolution exercise" more than closures.

Kirby added none of the decisions for his department outlined in the 2016 budget will be changed.