Nova Scotia

Halifax Public Libraries says it can manage with less city funding

Despite an overwhelming number of visitors to the Central Library in Halifax, along with a major increase in computer use and online visitors, Halifax Public Libraries management says it can make do with less municipal funding next year.

Library asking city council for $130K less than last year

Halifax Libraries will be reviewing staff structures and fees, despite increases in visitors and room rentals in 2015. (CBC)

Despite an overwhelming number of visitors to the Central Library in Halifax, along with a major increase in computer use and online visitors, Halifax Public Libraries management says it can make do with less municipal funding next year.

The request to the city is for $19,440,000 for 2016-2017 — roughly $130,000 less than what it is expected to cost to run the library system this year.

Halifax council contributes 76 per cent of library funding, while the provincial government kicks in about 20 per cent. The remainder comes from library-generated revenue such as room rentals, fines and parking.

Those fees will be increasing to raise an additional $265,000, according to documents posted online from a budget presentation to be made on Wednesday to Halifax's committee of the whole.

A plan to "reduce full-time positions and part-time hours," as well as an increase in "vacancy management," is expected to generate $325,000 in savings.

"We are not considering layoffs," said Åsa Kachan, chief librarian and CEO.

"We are reviewing staffing and service structures at Central Library and more broadly, to make sure we allocate our staff resources in a way that best serves the public's interest and needs."

New library welcomes 1.9 million

In the documents, a section devoted to the upcoming year's initiatives includes the launch of a new Halifax Libraries website costing $60,000, as well as a "youth technology plan, including gaming, creative lab and media studio."

Work is also expected to begin this year on relocating and expanding the Bedford Library.

According to the draft budget, the new Halifax Central Library welcomed 1.9 million in its first year of operation — far surpassing the original estimate of 900,000 visits per year.

Overall, computer use at libraries was up 92 per cent last year. Meeting room bookings also increased 28 per cent and WiFi connections were up 106 per cent.

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

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