Libraries are important for readers of Ward 15 and city

[attach]4947[/attach]Oakwood Village, Maria A. Shchuka, The Barbara Frum — each are pillars of the diverse communities they serve, and I am a proud supporter of them.

Not since amalgamation has city hall been tasked to grapple with such difficult issues as it is doing today. Indeed, the Core Service Review has and continues to be one of the most contentious debates in recent memory. The public discourse has reflected this with Torontonians of all stripes understandably concerned about our financial health and the quality of municipal services they have come to know and love.

While we do not yet know the specific size of our budget shortfall, we do know that it will be in the hundreds of millions and that difficult choices will have to be made along the way to balance it.

What we also know is this moment presents us with a tremendous opportunity to envision the kind of city we want to live and work in. In doing so, we can begin to reset our priorities accordingly and put us on a new path toward realizing it.

The Toronto I imagine has a strong public library system, with each branch serving as an important landmark of learning and togetherness as the needs of their neighbourhoods evolve. Without the same amount of community spaces as other parts of the city, the libraries in Ward 15 are shining examples of this. Far from only fulfilling its traditional role of lending books, The Barbara Frum, Oakwood Village, and Maria A. Shchuka libraries allow members to host meetings, borrow DVDs, access computers and the Internet to do homework or apply for jobs. In essence, they have grown into de facto community centres providing important services for seniors, families, newcomers, children and youth.

As the needs of our residents continue to change, the list of important services libraries will be asked to provide will grow exponentially. Libraries are essential assets to Ward 15 and communities throughout Toronto, and the public library system across our city should remain strong.

Perhaps one of the best side effects of this debate has been a heightened awareness of the importance of literacy and reading, especially for our children. On this note, I am delighted to have organized a community book drive this fall to benefit the Macaulay Child Development Centre in Ward 15, and invite you to drop off any gently used children’s books you may wish to donate.