June 15 2004
Meeting with Minister Coell: A BCLTA delegation met with Minister Coell to discuss his support and participation in the Union of BC Municipalities (Kelowna); the status of the Draft Strategic Plan for Public Libraries, and the creation of a Legacy Program. An item that was also flagged was the ongoing interest in liability insurance for library boards. Minister Coell was receptive to our concerns and comments. The Minister was presented with a tie and posed for a photo for the BCLTA website.
A LIBRARY LEGACY PROGRAM for British Columbia
One of the issues brought to the Minister's office on June 15 was the Library Legacy Program. It had been broached by the Association in our last meeting with the previous Minister, George Abbott. These are the words used to describe the idea in a brief outline for the new Minister:
The free and open public library has long been considered one of the institutions that measure our quality of life in a free society. In a move to strengthen and re-affirm that foundation, a program that would provide the public with an opportunity to contribute to that legacy is proposed. A successful library legacy program has been established in Alberta with the leadership of their Lieutenant Governor, Lois Hole.
It is important that a comprehensive plan be developed to secure support from all the participants of such a program: Government, library associations, libraries and the public, before a formal launch is undertaken. A "steering committee" must be charged to begin this process. An undertaking of this magnitude would require the commitment and leadership by the library community-at-large. This is a preliminary list of individuals who could be invited to participate:
- President, or designate, of the BCLTA
- President, or designate, of the BCLA
- President, or designate, of the ABCPLD
- Representative of BC business
- Director, Public Library Services Branch, Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services, or designate
- And others
The project development would require a financial base. BCLTA is willing to take a leadership role in this effort to coordinate the financial and human resources that would be required.
If we are able to proceed with this project we would be actively engaging every Board in the province for support. You will hear more about the Library Legacy Program.
BCLTA SURVEY OF MEMBERS REGARDING PROVINCIAL STRATEGIC PLAN
The Minister was advised of the results of our survey as follows:
Boards listed in descending order of priority the following issues (percentages indicate “high” ratings):
Ensuring basic library services are accessible to everyone in the area served by the library without payment of a user fee, and government funding generated from taxes to cover most of the cost of providing the service (97%).
Expecting libraries to adopt new roles such as technology training, access to electronic information and the internet and working with school libraries and government agencies (71%).
Finding opportunities for public libraries and other public sector organizations to work together in the licensing of commercial online database subscriptions to receive more favourable purchase terms and to create more uniform service levels across the province (47%).
Mandating public library governance under the authority of a regional district to offer a new option for establishment of a regional library service for the entire area which the library serves within the regional district (15%).
Using provincial performance based (conditional)funding to encourage public libraries to meet broader provincial goals, thereby augmenting the established roles that unconditional funding plays in supporting provision of base library services (6%).
The survey results show little support for:
Modifying the existing local governance framework
Performance based funding
The Minister said that there would not be a change in the governance structure, but that “federations” might be formed to facilitate exchange of resources.
Further the current system of per capita funding will likely remain. It may be supplemented by special funding for specific projects.
Overall, The Minister was most supportive of the BCLTA positions derived from the survey results.