– Mark E. Smith

Leaked to the Torontoist by an obvious source, a proposal, allegedly from Toronto Public Library “staff,” would result in the permanent closure of an entire library branch.

I may not wear the mantle of TPL’s biggest fan anymore, but I am still an ardent supporter of an institution I simply cannot live without. I submitted the following to the TPL board:

The Board has a duty to reject TPL staff’s ostensible “recommendations” for budget cuts – specifically reductions in collections and the closure of the Urban Affairs branch.

It is more than a little symbolic that staff recommend the closure of a branch with a collection of interest mostly to educated people, academics, professional city staff, and other intellectuals, one located smack dab in the middle of downtown. Staff couldn’t possibly be sending a clearer signal that anyone whose psychographic is at odds with the commonly-imagined constituency of the sitting mayor needs to get used to having its services revoked.

Closing Urban Affairs tells Toronto the following: The more educated you are, the smarter your library needs, the more urban your chosen way of living, the more likely we are to close your branch. “Just plain folks” you ain’t, and you don’t deserve a library. In this view, libraries are an elite perq we cannot afford anyway in an era of pink floral suits and subways to nowhere.

I specifically donated my back issues of – yes – Spacing to TPL so that Urban Affairs would finally have a full set. I have used the branch from time to time and it is irreplaceable. You can’t just pack up its collection and intermingle it within the already-overcrowded Reference Library. It’s a non-starter. What’s the next victim? The Merril and children’s collections at L.H. Smith?

A more ethical course of action would be to wait for a demand from City Council, issued by majority vote, to reduce TPL’s budget. This would of course contradict promises of no service cuts, a promise that proponents of such cuts would, with typical dishonesty, vigorously insist was never made. Orders in hand, TPL could reduce library hours in the sitting mayor’s old ward, Ward 2, to make up the shortfall. Let the mayor’s rabid supporters suffer. Let Council and the mayor wear the budget cuts. Do not skip blithely toward the guillotine.

You were not appointed to close libraries. Only philistines close libraries. Leave that job to the mayor.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2011.01.05 09:09. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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