One early evening at Jones I returned some items, chatted with my pal, then suddenly realized every single person who worked at the branch was right there behind the desk all at once. Seven of them.
I told them what I saw, and they all gave me exactly the same wry half-smile. We agreed telepathically that I wouldn’t take a picture.
The last mayor we had who actually supported the Toronto Public Library was David Miller, who, even while in office, borrowed books from Runnymede branch and read them on the subway, it was said at the time.
The shocking fact is that John Tory is not a library supporter. The letter I fax-o-grammed to his office this week explains why. (Links added.)
I am writing to ask a simple question. How is it possible that you, an ur-WASP and a child of libraries, ended up as the second mayor in a row who does not support the Toronto Public Library?
I think the facts back up what I’m saying.
Last year, you voted against a library budget increase. (Your side thankfully lost.) At issue was a tiny 200 grand earmarked for security guards.
In November, you harrumphed about the unremarkable and expected fact that the library does not block porn on its public-access computers. You told the Sun “These are publicly financed computers in publicly financed buildings” – but so are the library’s books, records, and videos, which I didn’t hear you complaining about. “I found it hard to believe… our policies… would allow people to in any way, shape or form look at pornography…. All I can say is I will look into it.”
And, having surely done that, you came to your senses and understood that no public library can act as a censor of legally available material. (You were probably not told about the library’s real censorship scandal, in which it banned an author outright from its collections.)
Yet after voting to cut the library’s budget and after lambasting its opposition to censorship, you showed up at the opening of Fort York branch and appeared at a corporate sponsor’s reading events at the library.
The library is the only city service people actually love. (Why do I feel like I am the first person ever to make that clear to you?) It’s underfunded and stretched, but so is every city service that isn’t the cops. (Yet you voted against paying for library security guards.)
Now the library is asking for a chintzy 1.8% budget increase. Thus far, and to general bafflement, you have managed to position yourself as Not a Library Supporter. I say again that your stance is incomprehensible given your upbringing, which would have been unthinkable without libraries. Reducing public expenditures is all well and good as a principle… except when the sums involved are small and the victim of the budget reduction is the only city service your constituents love.
I submit you do not actually believe in reducing library budgets, nor would you gloss such reductions as a sad necessity. You did not run on a platform of library budget cuts. Nobody at all, even those who did not vote for you, expects you to cut money from the library. So don’t! Vote for the piddling budget increase the library is asking for.
Wait till Mo finds out I agree with her that the library is underfunded.