Now is not the time to be silent if you are a library supporter. Somehow, Phase 1 of the new community centre is looking to include the Valley Fitness Centre as a priority over the municipal library, which has been disregarded to Phase 2 (commonly referred to as not-in-my-lifetime). Some people need dollar figures to persuade them of value, so here are some numbers for you. A first-of-its-kind study was done to find the economic return of public libraries in Toronto.
Here is what they found (Martin Prosperity Institute, 2013):
The return investment was 463 per cent.
Total direct benefits as much as $500 per member.
The average open hour at a branch generates $2,515 in direct benefits.
For every $1 spent, $5.63 of economic impact was delivered.
It is, however, hard to measure the cash profit of giving someone a book on grief after a loved one has passed away, or getting a five-year-old excited about astronomy, or teaching someone how to receive photos of their grandchild, or being the first stop for visitors and welcoming them to the valley.
These are the things that happen every single day at the library. These things enrich our lives and our community whether you use the services or not. I cant imagine an organization that better brings together community members under one roof, but the library facility has proudly outgrown its current location.
With the new hall, we are looking at a project that has the potential to represent our community. A municipal library should be a priority before one of several fitness centres in such a space, regardless of challenges in the way. If you agree, please let your voice be heard.