Bookmobile service gets strong backing at meeting

The following article appeared in the April 7 edition of the Guelph Mercury:

The folks who came to a Ward 2 Town Hall meeting Wednesday evening made it very clear where they stand on the bookmobile.

“This is something that Guelph has that other communities don’t have,” said Penny Dryburgh. “It’s such a wonderful service. Don’t get rid of it.”

She was born in Guelph and now lives in Burlington but she intends to move back to Guelph one day and still has family and friends in the city.

“I’m hearing the stories these people are telling you of how important the bookmobile is to them. It would be such a loss. And generally speaking, once something is lost, you never get it back again,” Dryburgh said.

Ward 2 councillors Ian Findlay and Andy Van Hellemond hosted the meeting, at the Elliott Community on Metcalfe Street. Councillors June Hofland, Jim Furfaro and Cam Guthrie were also in attendance along with some 50 people.

Findlay introduced Kitty Pope, chief librarian, who explained that city council has directed library staff to study the cost of operating the bookmobile and look for efficiencies.

Funding for the bookmobile has been cut as of June, but a strong report could sway council and see funding restored. Residents of the Elliott delivered a petition with nearly 50 names in support of continuing funding. A survey on the library’s website indicates 85 per cent of citizens support the bookmobile too, Pope said.

People at the meeting spoke passionately about how important it is to have books to read and for the books to be delivered to them. Many were in wheelchairs or used walkers and don’t drive anymore.

“I know,” Pope said. “People who don’t use the service themselves don’t see the value. But I know you value it. You are the folks who read a book a day.”

Findlay said library staff had been “scrambling” to get the service review done before the funding runs out.

“We are just asking for a review,” Van Hellemond added. “I don’t think it will be a problem keeping it going, in my point of view. I know how valuable it is to you.”

Pope said she is buoyed by the response from the community.

“It’s such an essential part of people’s lives,” she said. “Council is listening and I find that encouraging. This is our opportunity to make the case.”

A second town hall meeting will be held Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Guelph Lake Commons, on Victoria Road North.