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Toronto city council approves 0.9 per cent increase to library budget

Following a 15-hour marathon session on Feb. 15 that ran until after midnight, Toronto city council approved its 2017 budget, which includes a 0.9 per cent increase to the Toronto Public Library system.

The original budget proposed by Mayor John Tory and city council in June 2016 called for a 2.6 per cent budget cut from all departments, which represented a $6.195 million reduction to the TPL. City librarian Vickery Bowles prepared a report in September countering that a 0.9 per cent increase was necessary to avoid hours reductions or branch closures, and to maintain collections, staffing, and service levels. She also identified several “efficiencies totalling $3.529 million” via technological improvements such as self-checkout stations.

Several TPL employees, including Toronto Public Library Workers Union president Maureen O’Reilly, presented their case to the city’s budget committee on Jan. 17, after the library board voted unanimously against Tory’s cuts.