Okanagan Regional Library is obviously trying to exhibit fiscal prudence and equity by ensuring communities receive services in line with the taxes they contribute.
And that should be commended as the public’s ability to financially support the agency is limited.
However, there is the potential that this process, no matter how well meaning, could create an endless cycle that negatively impacts branches across the North Okanagan.
As an example, if there is reduced staff through retirement and fewer programs, branches may attract fewer people through the doors. If that occurs, then there is a reduction in books and other items being circulated and ORL administration and the board could make the case that even further resources are required.
One just has to look at the decision to change the hours of operation at the Cherryville branch. While the new schedule may work for some people, there are others who go to school or work that won’t be able to access the library because it’s only open Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“There is less opportunity for people to access the library so circulation goes down, so they (ORL) then look at the service,” said Hank Cameron, Cherryville’s electoral area director.
ORL’s commitment to financial prudence has already cost City of Vernon taxpayers $21,000 or Sunday openings at the Vernon branch would have been lost.
As has been previously stated, ORL, as a public agency, deserves praise for looking at operational changes that could reduce the bottom line and create equity among communities.
However, ORL needs to be cautious that it doesn’t create a situation that gets out of hand.