NEWS

Toronto library cuts could have large impact

01/10/2012 07:29 EST | Updated 03/11/2012 05:12 EDT

Toronto library supporters are warning that the 10 per cent cut the city's budget chief is demanding could mean cancelled programs, reduced collections or fewer hours.

Budget chief Mike Del Grande and council's budget committee demanded Monday that the library board find an additional $6.9 million in savings, to reach the 10 per cent mark.

Tuesday, officials said that could mean cutbacks to the bookmobile and adult literacy programs.

It could also mean a loss of about 20,000 opening hours across 59 branches — between two to 13 hours weekly, depending on the branch.

Councillor 'shocked'

Some councillors have complained the library is being forced to make a full cut when 12 other city agencies failed to reach Mayor Rob Ford's 10 per cent goal.

"I'm shocked that the budget committee has refused to listen to the people," said Coun. Janet Davis, the Toronto Library Board vice-chair.

"I'm hopeful that the mayor will recognize he has a responsibility to the people of Toronto who have said they want these libraries kept open."

However, Coun. Paul Ainslie, the board's chair, agrees with the cuts and has fought his own board to reach the 10 per cent goal.

"If I had to look at a choice between police officers and libraries having longer hours, I think most people would say to you they would rather have more police on the street," he said.

Author Margaret Atwood also stepped into the controversy again. Atwood, who had previously clashed with Coun. Doug Ford over library budgeting, tweeted on Tuesday that "your councillors did not hear you. Please remind them that you don't want your…library trashed."

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