Toronto Public Library Workers Union

From the Torontoist.....

2016 Budget Preview: The Toronto Public Library
The Toronto Public Library argues that it needs more capital spending to keep up with reader demand.

BY 

This article is part of Torontoist’s special 2016 municipal budget coverage. If you value journalism like this and you’d like to see it year-round, then subscribe now. You’ll help fund a staff writer to hold City Hall accountable, and be a member of Raccoon Nation.


Photo by photoanalysis from the Torontoist Flickr Pool  Photo by photoanalysis from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Library-goers in the post-Ford era are breathing easy now that their cherished institution no longer faces severe budget cuts. Ever since the 6 per cent budget decrease the Toronto Public Library system faced in 2012—the mayor’s office wanted a 10 per cent reduction—net expenditures have been on a gradual incline. With an average operating budget increase of 0.5 per cent over the past five years, budget increases have been much lower than inflation.The librarians have since put down their picket signs, and Anika Tabovaradan won the battle for her library to stay open after school. But the libraries’ fiscal woes are not over just yet—the TPL’s biggest obstacle lies within their long-term capital budget plan.

The Operating Budget


Before we get to the capital budget, let’s take a look at the operating budget (which funds ongoing annual expenditures, like staff salary). This year, the library board looks to boost their operating budget by $3.4 million to $192 million—a 1.8 per cent increase over last year’s budget. The proposed number accounts primarily for salary and benefit costs as well as contracted services. But the final number could change as the Budget Committee and Council starts to address the budget proposals on December 15 (the proposed budgets are usually greater than what City Council approves).

This year’s proposal comes with stats outlining a 13.5 per cent increase of total library use over the past decade. The libraries have experienced a 7.5 per cent increase for in-person visits, a 4.8 per cent increase in total circulation, and a hefty 40.9 per cent rise in “virtual visits”—a victory that can largely be credited to the department’s capital spending on Virtual Branch Services.

Due to an increasing demand for online material such as e-books and e-magazines, and “unreasonably high prices” charged by publishers, the budget proposal allocates $220,000 towards material and supply expenditures for their growing e-collection. The budget submission adds that digital content has increased by 250 per cent since 2012.

The Capital Budget


On the other end, the board has proposed a $28.3 million capital budget for 2016 as part of a $321.8 million plan to be dispensed over the next 10 years. Among various long-term TPL projects, the proposal includes renovations and expansions at the Wychwood and Dawes Road branches, a relocation of the Perth/Dupont branch, and, as part of a joint effort with the Parks, Forestry and Recreation department, additional funding for an underground parking lot at the Bayview branch.

But the long-term proposal could face serious questions during the budget process. Currently, the City’s debt target sits at $153.7 million over the next 10 years, while the TPL’s proposed capital budget exceeds that number by $71.3 million—a 46 per cent overage.

The 2016-2025 Capital Budget and Plan Update from the Library argues that the City’s assigned targets are “inadequate to meet TPL’s capital funding needs for building [state of good repair]” (the libraries’ multi-branch renovation program). The update adds that, because the debt targets are not adjusted for inflation in 2018, the target would create an increased backlog for the renovation program. Despite the $71.3 million in proposed spending that exceeds the debt target, there would still be a remaining $73 million backlog by 2025. The SOGR expenses become especially crucial as library usage increases—and so far, it has.

From the Toronto Public Library's 2016 Budget Proposal, pp  9 [PDF]  From the Toronto Public Library’s 2016 Budget Proposal, pp. 9 [PDF].


Despite increasing capital needs, the City requests a decrease in the Library’s debt target (blue). The green in this graph tracks what the increase would need to be to track with inflation, while the white is what the library says is needed to keep their capital needs in good stead.The last two years saw a variety of big capital ventures for the TPL, including two new branches in Fort York and Scarborough Centre. The branches cost $9.1 and $10.2 million respectively, and have attracted attention for their swanky features—3D printers, digital innovation hubs, and DJ equipment for Toronto’s aspiring Tiësto’s. Each branch holds roughly 40,000 books, provides access to over a dozen public access computers and Wi-Fi, and are well-used.

The Library is a beloved Toronto institution, as the response to the Ford-era budget cuts showed. How much Council is willing to fund its growth and support reader demand—particularly on the capital side—is an open question, and how councillors respond to this budget cycle will go a long way to provide the answer.


Did you like this article? Do you love Torontoist? Support articles like this by becoming one of the first Torontoist subscribers. Get great perks and fund local journalism that makes a difference—join Raccoon Nation now.

Librarian Glasses

Members Login Here:

Twitter icon

Recent Tweets

4h
RT @ab81: Wishing everyone a #HappyPride & to @torontolibrary @Local4948 staff marching in the parade, have a great time. Will be there in…
4h
RT @torontolabour: Library workers in the streets @Local4948 open up minds by reading #PrideTO https://t.co/l1YUOnoY0A
6h
RT @Bella_LisaB.@OFLabour Solidarity & Pride Champion @FredHahnCUPE an inspirational leader - who leads with strength, positivity, humour…
Jun 25
RT @Bella_LisaB.@OFLabour Solidarity & Pride Champion @FredHahnCUPE an inspirational leader - who leads with strength, positivity, humour…
Jun 25
RT @kristynwongtam.@Farrah_Khan handmade me a gigantic birthday and walked with it all day. What's there not to love about this one? http…
Jun 25
RT @CUPE2974: Essex County Library Warriors organize blood drive for one of their own. https://t.co/R3OvmJBQiF
Jun 23
Closing comments #USWxNDPLDdr Spirited discussion btw candidates @CharlieAngusNDP @nikiashton @GuyCaronNPD @MPJulian @theJagmeetSingh
Jun 23
RT @theJagmeetSingh: We need to ensure that as a party, we have an urban agenda that focuses on transit and housing #USWxNDPldr
Jun 23
RT @theJagmeetSingh: Immigration has built our country. It has made us stronger #USWxNDPldr
Jun 23
RT @nikiashton: I'm proud to have stood alongside USW, fighting for their rights. Pensions are deferred wages, period.#USWxNDPldr https://t
Jun 23
RT @CharlieAngusNDP: Fighting precarity starts from the bottom up. Communities working together, and New Democrats fighting for them #USWx
Jun 23
RT @CharlieAngusNDP: Welcoming people who come to Canada is about the kind of country we want to be, from cities to rural areas, from BC to…
Jun 23
RT @SteelworkersCA: Fireworks between candidates right now. Head-to-head debate format is pretty exciting #USWxNDPldr https://t.co/WJIBPg5
Jun 23
.@theJagmeetSingh: We need an urban agenda that supports cities and builds infrastructure #USWxNDPLDdr @SteelworkersCA
Jun 22
RT @SteelworkersCA.@nikiashton: JT not fighting for Cdn jobs esp in softwood lumber negotiations & yes to voting at 16 #USWxNDPLDdr
Jun 22
.@nikiashton says @JustinTrudeau must stand up to bullies like @realDonaldTrump#USWxNDPLDdr @SteelworkersCA
Jun 22
Next Q: "What is wrong with @JustinTrudeau approach to @realDonaldTrump". Answer @CharlieAngusNDP "Where do I start #USWxNDPLDdr
Jun 22
RT @SteelworkersCA: Question and critique section isn't easy. Great job to all candidates for respectfully taking each other to task #USWx
Jun 22
RT @SteelworkersCA.@MPJulian: Meaningful and long term reconciliation #USWxNDPldr
Jun 22
RT @CBCAlerts: Watch live as NDP leadership debate underway in Toronto: https://t.co/cJPz1F01Ja
Jun 22
RT @CharlieAngusNDP: An energy transition is possible. We need a federal government that is willing to do the work #USWxNDPldr
Jun 22
RT @GuyCaronNPD: While you pay 3$ at an ATM, Banks rake in G$. It’s time to pay their fair share #progressiveagenda #USWxNDPldr https://t.
Jun 22
RT @theJagmeetSingh: My plan to make Canada's tax system more fair will build a more inclusive economy #ndpldr https://t.co/fYuvuHX5JU
Jun 22
RT @nikiashton: Tax fairness is necessary so why not go further? It's time to be bold and strive for TRUE fairness #canlab #USWxNDPldr
Jun 22
RT @nikiashton: Proud to have met w/ labour leaders across this country during this campaign and in our precarious work tour #genyasksy #c
Jun 22
RT @SteelworkersCA.@CharlieAngusNDP: do what Jack did - have a vision for a social democratic government #USWxNDPLdr
Jun 22
RT @SteelworkersCA.@theJagmeetSingh: show respect & solidarity with Québécois. QC is a progressive province, and we are their national al…
Jun 22
RT @SteelworkersCA @theJagmeetSingh.@MPJulian: Support top issues in QC such as opposing Energy East, support student movement #USWxNDPL
Jun 22
RT @cartwrightTO#USWxNDPldr debate - 5 strong voices for #socialjustice #workersRights to choose from for #NDP leader. Sponsored by @St
Jun 22
RT @SteelworkersCA#USWxNDPLdr 1st question: what will you do to ensure Canadins have meaningful access to unionization & a response to th…
Jun 22
RT @SteelworkersCA: Happy to announce that our debate tonight is going to be broadcast live. Tune in shortly after 7:00 EST: usw.ca #USWxND
Jun 22
Sold out crowd. Topic: Labour. Justice. Our Future. Didn't get a ticket? Watch here #USWxNDPldr debate https://t.co/poRWLZ9dGn
Jun 22
.@KenUSW opens #USWxNDPldr debate showing abuse faced by call centre wrks. Visit https://t.co/S4LNIcLRb6 to take action @SteelworkersCA
Jun 22
RT @SteelworkersCA: Toronto #USWxNDPLdr is about to begin. For those at home, follow along with the live broadcast at https://t.co/BAc3hkz
Jun 21
RT @ttcriders: Thank you so much for your support @Local4948! We're excited to keep fighting for better transit for library workers and yo…
Jun 20
RT @Cupe1989: Join the fight 4 decent hrs, paid sick days, right 2 orgnize, respect @ work, rules 2 protect all, $15 Min Wage #15andFairnes
Jun 20
RT @jsikora.@Cupe1989 LauraKaminker: Strike victory @mississaugalib built on foundation of community support incl @fairwagesnow#sisterso…
Jun 20
RT @fairwagesnow: Our successful #15andFairness campaign to ban Dr's notes will save health care costs, help workers, reduce stress. https:…
Jun 20
RT @DeenaLadd: A $15 minimum wage in Ontario: a game changer - Behind the Numbers https://t.co/bOm6Uvk2wL#15andFairness @fairwagesnow#onp…
Jun 20
RT @Cupe1989: Higher wages=more spending=good for economy! $15 min wage will improve earnings of over 1/4 of ONT workforce #15andFairness
Jun 20
RT @jsikora.@torontolabour VP Andrea Babbington tells #sistersoftheroundtable that there is still work left to do to secure #15andfairnes
Jun 20
RT @fairwagesnow: The evidence shows #15andFairness is good for workers, the economy & improves health outcomes! https://t.co/3xkX1rl9IZ#W…
Jun 15
RT @LibnOfCongress: Comic book lovers rejoice! You'll love the Library of Awesome exhibit! A lot of no. 1s #Batman #WonderWoman #Hulk #Luke
Jun 15
RT @wylie_alan: Everyday library workers are being made redundant; undermined & stressed; forced to train volunteers to take their jobs, it…
Jun 15
RT @Staffourlibrary: Chris Riddell:"But what will stay with me long after I hang up my laureate medal are the libraries I have... https://t