Public libraries in Calgary and the GTA are facing a looming shutdown amid a budget-cutting plan unveiled Thursday.
Public libraries are facing closure due in part to a new, $300-million cut in the city’s public library budget.
The city is looking to reduce funding for the library by about 30 per cent.
“We’re going to be forced to make some hard choices,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said at a news conference Thursday morning.
“Some of our libraries are not going open at all.”
Public libraries have a staff of about 250 people.
Calgary Public Library Board Chair Carol Leech said staff are already facing an unprecedented cut.
“I’m not going anywhere.
I’m going to stay,” Leech told CBC News.
“There are a lot of people that need to be part of the public library network and it’s not easy to cut that off.”
A spokesman for the city of Calgary said staff have been instructed to “immediately start planning for a possible closure,” including a “continuation of library hours,” while the board conducts a review of its operating budget.
Calgary’s library system has been a fixture in the community since 1894.
The Calgary Public Libraries has operated for more than 100 years.
The library system’s board has been looking at how to reduce the size of its staff to meet demand for its services.
“It’s not a one-time event.
It’s not just a temporary thing.
It will take a long time,” said Leech.
“People are going to have to make choices and take responsibility.”
The board will also review the operations of libraries in other parts of the city, such as the Trinity Regional Library and the Edmonton Public Library.
The cuts are part of a plan announced by city council last month to cut $300 million from Calgary’s general fund over the next decade.
Calgary is the second-largest city in Canada, with an population of about 35,000 people.
Its city budget will be reduced by almost $20 million over the past four years.
This means about 60 per cent of the libraries in the entire city of roughly 990,000 square kilometres will close, according to the library board.
The reduction is expected to affect about 8,000 library employees.