Counterpoint – Should the city library be your neighbourhood Blockbuster between Councillor Mike Del Grande and Councillor Sarah Doucette
Reported from the National Post newspaper
Should the city library be your neighbourhood Blockbuster? Should it be well stocked with non-English materials? Budget chief Mike Del Grande posed the provocative questions on Tuesday to illustrate the kind of frank conversation he thinks the public library should have about how it spends its money. In a point-counterpoint, Mr. Del Grande makes his case, and Councillor Sarah Doucette, a member of the library board, offers her rebuttal. An excerpt of their comments is below.
Councillor Mike Del Grande, budget chief “I ask this question again: 25% of circulation budget is for DVDs and movies. Should the city library become a Blockbuster? Is that what we should be doing? Is that our core program, or is that program creep? What proportion of our budget should go for non-English movies and books? An argument can be made that this is what makes the city great, but I would dare say our common language is English, we’re spending tons of money for ESL, should we not have a discussion of how much of the library budget should go for non-English resources? ’Cause then we say we don’t have enough, if you don’t deal with your basic first, how can you be doing all these other things? Should I be able to go the library and borrow Pirates of the Caribbean, latest release, which every single library has? Should the library be closed on Sunday when we’re paying our people double time? If we are to be an international language library then let’s talk about how we do that, but right now we’re a computer centre, we’re in the movie business, we’re in the circulation business of non-English language and programming. My issue is: what’s our fundamentals? Now the library is becoming ‘the community centre.’ Is the library to be our community centre? What do we do with our community centres? We have to have some fundamental, frank discussions. By the way, the top borrowing of movies is in the Hindi language.”
Councillor Sarah Doucette, member of the library board “We have books in Chinese, at Swansea Memorial Branch we ask them to be in French because we have a school down the street teaching French. The videos are all over the spectrum. It’s not just first-rung movies, it’s documentaries, in all different languages. We also have a city librarian and staff who select. It’s not up to council to critique what they think they need for each branch. I guess it depends on what you think a library is. As I’ve been saying for many months now, a library is no longer a room full of books. It’s the computers where people can come to get jobs, can improve their education. Some of the videos and CDs are how-to videos. We’ve got the newspapers, magazines, a wide variety of things. It’s where we do programming, people learn English, children learn how to read. It’s a hub of a community, it’s a cooling centre in the summer, it’s somewhere where you can go in the winter. Non-English movies? I agree with [having] that completely because we don’t all speak English. Hollywood movies, I’m sure there’s a small proportion of that, but it brings people into the branch.”
Posted in: City Hall, Posted Toronto Tags: Blockbuster Inc., Local Politics, Media, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Swansea, Toronto