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

Dec 15
RT @Local4948: December 19 at 4 pm. Corner of Bond and Queen. Rally in support of St. Mike's Hospital Staff. Stop the firings @CUPEOntar
Dec 15
RT @Local4948: Sign & Share! https://t.co/BdTP3qmu7a Support retail workers in York Region who have been stripped of public holidays and a…
Dec 15
RT @Local4948: "Be Bold. Be Brave" says @BernieFarber. Toronto library bars hate groups from renting space https://t.co/03Eiwvy3ix space/#…
Dec 15
RT @Local4948: Toronto Public Library board votes to revise room-booking policy after controversial memorial https://t.co/nEhdbFMsFA@4948P
Dec 15
RT @Local4948: Toronto Public Library bans hate groups from renting space https://t.co/iIYJqAIKOE via @TheCJN @4948President
Dec 15
RT @torontolabour: Despite lack of consultation - Controversial York Region holiday shopping bylaw upheld, begins Jan. 1 https://t.co/UWEw0
Dec 15
RT @cartwrightTO: I will be on @metromorning Friday 6:10 am talking about #YorkRegion stripping holidays from retail workers with no public…
Dec 14
December 19 at 4 pm. Corner of Bond and Queen. Rally in support of St. Mike's Hospital Staff. Stop the firings.… https://t.co/UTmRUxzIPH
Dec 14
Sign & Share! https://t.co/BdTP3qmu7a Support retail workers in York Region who have been stripped of public holid… https://t.co/xBKQAJuPB0
Dec 13
"Be Bold. Be Brave" says @BernieFarber. Toronto library bars hate groups from renting space https://t.co/03Eiwvy3ixhttps://t.co/Pduvt91ii2
Dec 13
Toronto Public Library board votes to revise room-booking policy after controversial memorial https://t.co/nEhdbFMsFA@4948President
Dec 13
Toronto Public Library bans hate groups from renting space https://t.co/iIYJqAIKOE via @TheCJN @4948President
Dec 12
RT @cartwrightTO: Speaking tonight at @torontolibrary Board to support new policy to bar hate groups using public libraries @4948President
Dec 12
RT @Local4948: Tonight at the TPL Board meeting. https://t.co/fXEAHLi5bB.@4948President Maureen O'Reilly previously deputed on this issu…
Dec 12
RT @Local4948: New @torontolibrary room booking policy passed tonight. Proud that @4948President Maureen O’Reilly + the #LibraryWorkers sta…
Dec 12
RT @Local4948: Libraries are safe spaces, not hate spaces. Thanks to all who urged the Board + TPL Management to do the right thing @4948Pr
Dec 12
Libraries are safe spaces, not hate spaces. Thanks to all who urged the Board + TPL Management to do the right thin… https://t.co/5WgXrHoeOL
Dec 12
New @torontolibrary room booking policy passed tonight. Proud that @4948President Maureen O’Reilly + the… https://t.co/HkJotsw7W7
Dec 11
RT @BernieFarber: Looking forward to speaking this evening as the Toronto Library Board decides on its new policy to deny hate mongers use…
Dec 11
Tonight at the TPL Board meeting. https://t.co/fXEAHLi5bB.@4948President Maureen O'Reilly previously deputed on… https://t.co/IQzaOBMlQ4
Dec 10
RT @CUPEOntario: Many long-term care (LTC) residents aren't getting the help they need w/ feeding, bathing, & toileting #Bill33 will chang…
Dec 10
RT @Local4948: Upcoming TPL Board Meeting: Mon Dec 11 at 6 pm @ Toronto Reference Library: Agenda Item: Revised TPL Room Booking Policy htt…
Dec 08
Upcoming TPL Board Meeting: Mon Dec 11 at 6 pm @ Toronto Reference Library: Agenda Item: Revised TPL Room Booking P… https://t.co/0CzchMRXVr
Dec 07
RT @CUPEOntario: Today #CUPE members across the province recognize the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against WomenRe…
Dec 07
RT @cupenat: On December 6, CUPE joins with people across Canada to mark the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, where 14…
Dec 07
RT @betterlivesto: Very important #OpenShelterNow. We need to do better as a city to take care of the most vulnerable residents. Visit h…
Dec 04
RT @CUPEOntario: Reminder for CUPE members:  Pick up the phone when we call you for an important Town Hall Call about how #Bill148 will im…
Dec 02
RT @somewhatcivil @m_layton @metromorning @JohnTory Please, bore me!
Dec 02
RT @m_layton @metromorning mayor is playing a political game that has him swooping in to save stuff he already promised, but without perma…
Dec 02
RT @m_layton @metromorning if you’re planning on changing proposed budget, why not save city time (fear) and tells us what priority is @Jo
Dec 02
RT @m_layton @metromorning “don’t want to bore people about budget” says @JohnTory. Insulting. Mayor directed staff to freeze budgets so s…
Nov 30
RT @rogerbannisters @Brandon4948 @4948President @cupelocal79 @Local4948 @cupe1600 @CUPE2191 Miss you all! First one missed in years....
Nov 30
RT @4948President: TO can do better Personal best Waited for 9 subway trains this am 9️⃣️ On way to budget launch LOL @betterlivesto @Loc
Nov 30
RT @Brandon4948: Attending #budgetTO launch today in council chamber along w reps from @cupelocal79 @Local4948 @cupe1600 @CUPE2191 and of c…
Nov 30
RT @4948President: Status quo budget actually delivers cuts again to Ourpubliclibrary.ca TO Can Do Better @Local4948 @betterlivesto#TOpoli…
Nov 30
RT @_rileypeterson: HEY #TOYouth: No funding for additional youth hub locations, staffing, or programs in the preliminary #TOBudget. Take a…
Nov 30
RT @jpags: Tension now as staff push back about why these things aren’t included in the budget. Mayor has made announcements about Presto t…
Nov 30
RT @shelleycarroll @MichaelPolanyi Right. If, just for instance, one wanted to pay $100 increase on average, instead, the addt’l $19 would…
Nov 30
RT @MichaelPolanyi @shelleycarroll $81 average property tax hike not bad considering a) Toronto has lowest property taxes in GTA and b) av…
Nov 30
RT @shelleycarroll: Your tax incr.:$81.00 on avg. $85million in Council Approved Services Not Included. $3.4 million left to use on those ‘…
Nov 30
RT @TorontoComms: Learn how your tax dollars are working for you. Visit our #TObudget page to learn more about the tax supported budget htt…
Nov 30
RT @jpags: Looking closer, this preliminary budget does not fund the transit Fair Pass for low-income riders at all, or staff to administer…
Nov 30
RT @cityslikr: Aspiration Is For Losers. Status Quo's the Way To Go. Re-elect Mayor John Tory, 2018 #TOpoli
Nov 30
RT @MichaelPolanyi: What message does @johntory send to most vulnerable in our City by NOT including promised actions from the poverty redu…
Nov 30
RT @jpags: The full list of programs and services not included in the preliminary budget is here on pages 12 through 14: https://t.co/vnAoh
Nov 30
RT @jpags: Additional things not included in this preliminary budget: Tory’s traffic wardens, Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy, Reins…
Nov 30
RT @jpags: Importantly, the following things are not included in this balanced base budget and requires council to choose to fund them: Two…
Nov 30
RT @MichaelPolanyi: Toronto has the highest child poverty rate of all cities in Canada AND longest wait lists for affordable housing, child…
Nov 30
RT @neville_park: …Vision Zero, cycling plan delivery, 825 childcare spaces, captioning for Council & committee meetings…you know, nice-to-…