Nfld. & Labrador

Liberal MHA Scott Reid speaks out against library closures

One MHA wants the cuts in his district reversed - cuts that his own party made.
Scott Reid believes the government can find the revenue necessary to keep the libraries in his district open. (CBC)

Liberal MHA Scott Reid is speaking out against the closure of four libraries in his district, cuts made as a result of his party's own fiscal measures in budget 2016.

"I think we have to ask ourselves, what are the other options and what are the other possibilities?" Reid told CBC Radio's Corner Brook Morning Show on Tuesday.

On the weekend, Reid posted a widely shared note on Facebook that expressed concern over library closures in his district of St. George's-Humber. 

"The more I talk with these people and hear of the wonderful work they are doing in their communities, the more I am convinced that the decision to close Libraries [sic] needs to be reviewed," wrote Reid, after meeting with library board volunteers from the Stephenville Crossing and St George's libraries.

The two other libraries closing in Reid's district are in McKay's and Codroy Valley.

The province's library board announced the closure of 54 of of its 95 libraries last week, after the April 14 budget sliced $1-million from its annual budget, prompting a wide array of public outcry.

"I think government has to have another look at it."

Change of heart

Reid said he did not learn of the cuts directly from government, but rather from local library volunteers.

He decided to speak out after meeting the volunteers and learning of the array of services each library provides.

"I was really impressed with the number of programs that they offer," said Reid, listing everything from storytime hours to Qalipu drum circles to RCMP program partnerships.

"I got a better sense of the importance of the libraries in these communities, for things like internet access... that service at the library is an important service."

Stephenville Crossing's public library, housed in its municipal building, is one of four slated to close in Reid's district. (Google Streetview )

Against the party line

Reid said he had no qualms about speaking publicly against a measure implemented by his own party.

"It's maybe a little unusual. but it's part of the responsibility of an MHA to look at ways to find solutions to issues that face our district," he said.

"I've expressed my views to the ministers involved, and to caucus, and I'm going to continue to do that."

Reid said he was "encouraged" by the minister of Education's announcement Monday that some libraries could possibly stay open if municipalities or schools took over responsibility.

Reid also stated the cost savings associated with the cuts do not add up, with each of the libraries in his district requiring about $20,000 to operate annually.

"We may be able to look at sourcing other government revenue, and we may be able to find innovative solutions if we start to look at what these libraries provide, and how we can sort of continue those programs."

With files from the Corner Brook Morning Show