Letter to the Editor: When They Knock, Ask About the Library

Dear Editor,

It seems less and less frequent that we receive knocks on the door with people on the other side who want to have face-to-face conversations. Rare is the opportunity to look someone in the eye rather than through a screen and talk about things that matter.

It’s election season in Nova Scotia, a time when there will be knocks on your door from people who want to shape your community, candidates running to be members of the Legislative Assembly who will try to direct what our province looks like, who will attempt to map out our future, who determine our fate.

We in CBRM deserve the very best. We need to get past the notion that because we have our struggles, we are not worthy of things that can increase our vitality and help us become the leaders of the country and of the world, like so many Capers now and before us.

Most people want a healthy community. Health is a broad-ranging concept, as is the concept of literacy. With the modern age has come an understanding of literacy as a way of reading the world around us, not just through books, but through many modes of interpretation.

Libraries are critically important pieces of healthy communities. Our Cape Breton Regional Municipality Library system directs the health of our municipality. A vibrant library system keeps us thriving and allows us to develop in ways that are vitally important to our well-being.

When a community is literate and able to interpret, read, decipher messages and garner information from many media sources, to tell real news from otherwise, and to gain wisdom of each other, we all win. High rates of literacy lessen rates of poverty, mental health issues and addiction. When a community’s literacy is allowed to fall into decline, rest assured the citizenry will suffer.

Our CBRM libraries provide services, programs, print and electronic materials, and even snowshoes and tennis racquets! For the last eight years, public libraries in Nova Scotia have received less than one percent per year increases in their core funding, funding which is different from grants and one-time infusions of cash. Libraries are struggling to deliver and meet the needs of the populace.

When candidates in this next provincial election come knocking on your door, ask them where the health and literacy of the residents of CBRM fit on their list of priorities. Ask them what they will do to support the work, programs and deliverables of your local library. The future of Cape Breton depends on it.

Neeta Kumar-Britten

Chair, Cape Breton Regional Library Board