Library CEOs and representatives have been making deputations to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs since December 12, 2023. Deputations are still ongoing, and the committee seems invested in hearing how the Ontario Digital Public Library and enhanced provincial funding will impact local public libraries and their communities. Thank you to everyone who applied to make a deputation! There have been nine presentations made to the Standing Committee to date with more coming in the next few weeks. If you’re interested in learning more about the deputations made to the Standing Committee, you can read the transcripts for each of the deputation dates online and see some of the fantastic presentations made by our colleagues.
I also had the opportunity to make a presentation to the Minister of Finance on January 11th . With my brief 3-minute timeslot, I focused Minister Bethanfalvy’s and other attending MPPs attention on the need for the province to fund the Ontario Digital Public Library. The official pre-budget submission to the Ministry of Finance was submitted on Friday of last week and forwarded to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. This pre-budget submission is the official request for provincial funds and culminates the various deputations we have been engaged in these past weeks. I have attached a copy of the submission to this email, please feel free to distribute this document to your boards and council members to show them that we are actively engaged in advocating for our libraries.
At the same time, various library CEOs, library board members and FOPL board members have been meeting with their local PC Caucus MPPs. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reach out and meet with your MPPs, we’re already starting to see some great inroads in pushing our provincial priorities forward. The only way we can achieve this goal is to work together! So far, we have 17 meetings confirmed with various PC caucus MPPs around the province. We’ve already heard back that we’ve had very positive and successful meetings with Minister Pirie (Mines), Minister Lecce (Education), MPP Rae and MPP Clark. Each were engaged and interested in the library sector and most importantly, said they would support the ODPL. They each said they would follow up with Minister Lumsden directly with either a meeting or a letter expressing their support for the Ontario Digital Public Library. That is already an AMAZING start to our outreach initiative! During our advocacy days in November, Minister Lumsden made it clear that he needs support from his PC Caucus members so that he can successfully bring our priorities to the table.
Earlier this week, I attended the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association Conference in Toronto. FOPL had a booth in the tradeshow and I was able to talk to municipal councillors, CAOs, library board chairs and mayors from all across the province about our provincial priorities. We always promote the value of public libraries at these conferences and in 2024, we are introducing a new campaign called “Libraries are for Everyone”. I have attached a digital copy of the postcard that we hand out so that you can share it with your boards and council members as well.