I read with interest the article (Trail addresses politics of the public library, Trail Times, Nov. 22) regarding politics and the library in Trail and would like to offer some comments.
Library boards were established so that library operations would be governed by a Board, dedicated to providing the best library services. This Board operates independently of municipal councils whose outlook and priorities change as different people are elected. This allows the Library Board to provide the highest level of service given municipal funding levels and without political interference. The Library Act clearly outlines the duties of the Library Board and the municipality, the municipality provides the funds and the Board administers the Library.
There should be no “blurred lines of accountability” if both partners understand the Library Act. I agree that libraries are underfunded by the provincial government but until that changes the municipality is the major financial support.
With respect to the BC One Card concerns, this service was implemented at the provincial government level. The program implementation did not increase the costs of operating the library, as there was no increase in staffing to process item check in and out. The funds from BC One support the operation that benefits the citizens of Trail. The BC One Card feature also means that with the new Library location more visitors will be drawn through the downtown core.
The volunteer Library Board works very hard providing guidance and support to the Library Director, ensuring that budgets are met, and writing and re-writing policy. The additional load of preparing for the move was anticipated by the Board and in the fall of 2016 I requested, as the Chair, that the number of board members be increased due to the move and the fact that several board members would be reaching the end of their term in a year or two. Council declined to do so and is now expressing concern about the sustainability of the Board.
It is imperative that library boards operate the Library without political interference. Mayor Mike Martin rather disingenuously states that council is not setting out to dissolve the library board when it is impossible for them to do so without passing a by-law and going to the electorate for approval.
This whole discussion is not about money or the need for changes to Board roles, it is about the desire of council and the administration to control library operations and staff which is in total opposition to the Library Act. Council wanted the wow factor library/museum and now they seem surprised to find out that the wow factor is going to cost.
I am sure that the Library Board will provide the best possible service for the dollars allocated to them by council. The quality of YOUR library depends on the financial support provided by YOUR Council.