BARRY’S BAY – Madawaska Valley Public Library is fighting provincial cutbacks to grants, which helped pay for internet services at the facility.
A letter from Board Chair Iwona Mooney, addressed to Eleanor McMahon, minister of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, was forwarded to Madawaska Valley council at the last regular meeting of 2016 on December 19.
Mooney wrote that the library is concerned and disappointed about the decision made earlier this year to reduce broadband funding to public libraries.
“After losing the Federal Community Access Program funding in 2012 and the provincial database funding in 2014, small and rural library budgets have been deeply affected,” Mooney wrote.
The board chair explained that the Connectivity Grant for public libraries was the last stable funding to help offset the cost of providing public access to the internet for many people in rural and outlying areas, who either cannot afford the service or reside outside the bounds of service providers.
“While the Ontario Library Capacity Fund has been extremely helpful in offsetting the loss of funding over the past three years, it too will be gone after 2017,” Mooney said. “In libraries such as ours, budgets are very tight. We do not have access to the corporate dollars that city libraries can tap into.”
She explained that this region of the County of Renfrew faces many challenges, including normal unemployment rates and no large industries for support.