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LETTER: Candidates should commit to supporting local libraries

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I am appealing to all candidates running for office in the Newfoundland and Labrador election to declare their support for the province’s public library system and their intention to work toward increasing the ability of local libraries to serve as community resources and to obtain the additional funding required.

Libraries are not simply buildings or books. Libraries are places and programs that unemployed people can use to carry out job searches on the internet.

They help families and seniors save money by borrowing books and DVDs instead of buying them. Libraries allow seniors and others to find out about government programs that they can be part of. Libraries let people carry out genealogy research to learn more about themselves and their background.

Libraries help keep teens occupied by providing after-school programs. Libraries increase literacy through kids’ reading programs. Libraries provide the opportunity for students to get better marks by providing them with quiet and reflective study environments.

These are just a few of the resources available to the public through the library system that help to drive the economy.

Libraries have a large impact on the local economy and workforce development. Libraries contribute to business development, general economic impacts in the community, and job creation.

Research in B.C. has shown that over 75 per cent of library patrons regularly combine trips to the library with the purchase of goods and services from retail stores close to the library. One study of the Toronto library system showed a 200 per cent to over 600 per cent return on investment (ROI) of public dollars and an economic benefit of $563 to every Torontonian from each dollar invested in the library system.

Numerous studies have found that libraries also provide significant ROIs in the form of human and social capital on the investment taxpayers make in them.

All candidates in this election should step up and demonstrate their commitments to local libraries and to the provincial library system.

Michael Hewson

Chair of the Bay Roberts Public Library Board

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