The Terrace Public Library’s financial crunch will be furthered next budget year, as School District No. 92 of the Nisga’a nation has said it is unable to continue paying a membership fee for residents of the Nass Valley.
Since 2005, School District No. 92 has annually paid $2,000 a year to use the Terrace Public Library, as there is no such facility available in the Nass Valley.
Board chair for the library Patti Chapman said the loss of this money will be far reaching as it will be followed by another $5,000 that will be cut by the provincial government as its contribution to the library is made on a per-capita formula, and the loss of Nass Valley residents will significantly lower the number of library users.
Superintendent for School District No. 92 Keith Spencer said it is hard to spend money on a public library when that money is much needed in schools in the Nass Valley.
“That is where we are putting our money,” Spencer explained.
He also feels that paying for a public library is a municipal task, not something that should be left to a school district.
Spencer said the school district already makes a public reading contribution by giving money to the village to employ someone to oversee the school library, which is open for public use.
He said there is no dissatisfaction on the part of the school district with the public library, it is simply an issue where government should be footing the bill, something Spencer said he has sent a letter requesting.
Cal Albright, director of programs and services for the Nisga’a/Lisims Government, said taking over this payment is something that will be considered.
“We are looking at this,” he said, explaining he understands School District No. 92 is under financial pressure.
According to Chapman, the library still hopes to get some kind of arrangement in place with the Nisga’a, be it through the school district or government.
“I just think it’s going to be a big loss to the Nass Valley,” Chapman said.
“The Nass Valley is remote. They don’t have access to a public library facility, and it’s a given that it (a public library) is a huge stepping stone to literacy,” Chapman continued, adding that she thought the arrangement had showed a lot of foresight on the part of School District No. 92.
So far the Terrace Public Library has already said it will close its doors for up to two weeks in 2012 if it does not get a hike in its operating grant from the City of Terrace.
This is to cover wage increases, and Chapman said they haven’t even factored in the loss of the $7,000 yet, which may increase the closure. As of September, there were 196 residents of the Nass Valley with library cards and in 2010, 1,934 items were checked out by Nass residents.