Cutting public library budget a bad idea

Crazy talk.

What is?

Mayor Rob Ford has asked the Toronto Public Library to cut 10 per cent from its 2012 operating budget.

Libraries are a public learning institution that feeds the minds of the young, the old and everyone in between.

But Ford’s request for a 10 per cent cut could lead to reduced hours at 52 branches across Toronto.

Scarborough is a multicultural community and a destination for many new immigrants. Libraries are often among the first places they go once they settle in. Services like English language classes help new immigrants adjust to living in their new home.

The library system is a city service that provides real, fundamental value for the public.

Public libraries act as a gateway for immigrants, yes, but they offer so much more.

The University of Toronto at Scarborough has its own library but there is often no peace and quiet to be found there. Students in need of valuable — and silent — study time relocate to public libraries because their atmosphere facilitates concentration.

Those who otherwise don’t have access to the Internet, or those in search of answers to just about anything, can find what they’re looking for at their nearest public library.

Seniors can take classes on using the web and email, while the young can partake in after-school programs. If library hours are reduced, how can programs such as these be available at appropriate times for the people who rely on and enjoy them?

After all, friendships and memories are forged at public libraries.

And then there are those just looking for a good book. That’s important too.

The library system is a city service that provides real, fundamental value for the public. For Ford to even ask for a 10-per cent cut is downright ridiculous.