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Hay River library fears funding cut despite rise in popularity

Yellowknife, NWT – Hay River’s library fears for its funding, despite being at its most popular for a decade.

The library has asked the Town of Hay River to supply $175,000 in funding for 2015 – an increase of $15,000 on the past two years – in order to meet its current staffing and programming levels.

But the library’s committee fears the town will be unable to support that budget, and cuts will have to be made as a result.

“If we’re unable to be funded at that level, it’s very likely we will have to decrease library hours and of course, staff and some programming with that,” committee member Tom Lakusta told Moose FM.

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“The Town of Hay River is not going through great times right now, and I’m sure the town council would like to cut budgets when they can. When budgets get cut it affects the programming and the hours we can remain open.

“I think everybody in Hay River needs to pull together and recognise that maybe things have to be cut a little bit. But, by the same token, the library committee certainly would think the library is a place where things shouldn’t be cut too much. We’re providing a valuable service for the people of Hay River.”

The library’s figures appear to bear that out. In a letter supporting the proposed 2015 budget (PDF link), committee secretary Michelle Staszuk says there were 3,886 individual visits to the library in September 2014 – the highest monthly figure in 10 years.

According to Lakusta, the library’s popularity has lasted throughout the summer.

“It was amazing,” he said. “We had more people come into the library in August than we have people in Hay River.

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“I don’t know if other libraries in other places, like Yellowknife or down south, have those kinds of numbers, but it has become a very popular place to be in Hay River.”

The library’s budget will be up for discussion when the committee presents at the next Hay River town council meeting, this coming Tuesday, October 14.

“The town has always been very supportive,” said Lakusta.

“Regardless of the funding the town is able to give us – and I know they will give us what they can – the library will always be a hub for this community, and the programming will continue to match the entire age range and cultural range of our community.”

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