BCLA was pleased to welcome Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, to the BCLA offices late last week. Minister Fleming met with Past President Daphne Wood and Executive Director Annette DeFaveri for 45 minutes (unfortunately President Anne Olsen was out of the province). Minister Fleming was keenly interested in the Association and in province-wide issues that affect all aspects of the library community.
The meeting was an opportunity for BCLA to speak directly to the Minister about BCLA’s role in the library community and to discuss the collaborative work the Association does with its partners, BCLTA, ABCPLD, and the BC Libraries Cooperative as well as with the provincial GLAM sector and publishing community. We talked about our growing relationship with the BC Social Studies Teachers Association and our connections with BC Civil Liberties. We talked about some of the challenges our members face around professional development. We kept our focus provincial as this was clearly the perspective the Minister wanted.
Minister Fleming was interested in hearing BCLA’s opinion about the library-funding line item disappearing from the Ministry of Education’s budget (BCLA had written to protest the removal of the line item). This discussion was an opportunity to talk about how important the library sector is to the social, cultural and economic development of the province and to suggest that while we think a “cost of living” increase in funding would be appropriate (and would echo the government’s intentions with schools) that in fact it would be more appropriate to see a return to pre-2009 funding. We suggested that the government’s commitment to “new leadership that works for ordinary people” could be partially realized by restoring funding to the library sector…the sector that fully serves ordinary people in every corner of the province.
We were able to make links to the government’s three key commitments to British Columbians, as articulated in the Ministry’s mandate letter from Premier John Horgan. We suggested, from the Association’s perspective, that the way to ensure that the government meets those commitments would be to first address connectivity issues throughout the province.
This was a very positive and frank meeting with a Minister that knew much more about libraries and the library sector than we had expected. His interest was sincere, keen and educated. Daphne and I felt positive and “listened to.” It was a pleasure to meet with Minister Fleming and BCLA looks forward to working with the BC government to advance public libraries together.
British Columbia Library Association