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Harper Cuts Library Computer Access Program for Poor

 
Budget Cuts a Blow to Internet Access in Libraries
by BC Library Association
British Columbia will be hit with a $515,000 cut in funding to 135 Community Access Program (CAP) sites in public libraries across the province. Termination of this program is a blow to some of the country’s most vulnerable and remote communities.

Public libraries use CAP funding to bridge the digital divide between those Canadians who cannot get or afford access to electronic information and those Canadians whose access to information is as accessible as their home computer and high speed internet connection.

“Libraries support free access to information like no other organization,” says Christopher Kevlahan, president of the British Columbia Library Association.
 
“The fact that the Federal government doesn’t value this service should be cause for concern for all Canadians.”
 
Libraries and communities will have to make hard choices as they decide how to cope with the shortfall. Small and rural libraries, whose budgets are already inadequate, will not be able to upgrade computer equipment and will have to cancel or reduce internet training programs. Library users who rely on those CAP sites will see reduced access to government services, to employment services, to homework help and databases, and less support for finding information on the internet and developing search skills. In particular, the needs of seniors, rural residents without high speed internet access, low income families, tourists, seasonal workers, and youth will be affected by the CAP funding cuts.

Larger library systems may be able to reallocate funds and thus maintain the same level of service and equipment that all communities deserve. But replacing the CAP budget money will come from somewhere else. The cut to CAP funding could mean a reduction in book budgets, facilities maintenance budgets, or staffing budgets if these libraries are to maintain current levels of electronic access and equipment.

Librarians and the communities they serve understand the need for fiscal responsibility. It is hard to see, however, how denying information to our most vulnerable populations and to economically depressed and rural areas is a responsible answer to budget problems.

The BC Library Association urges the Federal Government to re-examine this decision in order to ensure that all Canadians continue to have critical access to the current technology infrastructure in their communities. 

 

Annette DeFaveri
Executive Director
BC Library Association

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you could write a simple letter or email to Industry Minister Christian Paradis, hopefully we can turn this around. (You could also cc your MP at the same time.) This URL will show you how to contact Minister Paradis: http://www.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/ProfileMP.aspx?Key=170204&Language=E  

 
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