KELOWNA – Looming cuts to staff and services at the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL) will limit access to important community services and supports, says CUPE.
Proposed cuts, including 375 staff hours in 19 library branches across the Okanagan would not only limit library and other services and reduce the number of hours that libraries are open to the public, they would also mean that many more of the smaller branches will become one-person operations, raising serious safety concerns for staff working alone.
“There has been no community discussion of the proposed cuts to date. Now that the ORL has begun making this information public, we are encouraging library users who are concerned about the loss of services to make sure their voices are heard by municipal councils, who are the major library funders,” said Deb Dolman, Vice-President of CUPE Local 1123 representing workers at the ORL. “With public interest in libraries on the rise and ever-greater demand and need for information and knowledge, our communities have never needed these services more.”
“We are hopeful that the ORL Board will ensure that there is an opportunity for broad public consultation on proposed changes. We are already concerned that so much planning has gone on behind the scenes without community knowledge. Given plans to substantially cut hours in smaller communities like Oliver, Okanagan Falls, Princeton, Sicamous and Keremeos – as well as in major centres like Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm, it is really important that the public gets a chance to look at options and alternatives before any final decisions are made,” said Dolman.