Investing in the future

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Promotion of literacy has never been more important, in this age of 140 character tweets, Facebook updates and GIFs.

Libraries are essential landmarks in communities where parents can take their children to pick new adventures to enter, and all the while kids are working out their mind muscle. In this digital age – where children are handed iPads before they’re five – youth need to continue reading to broaden their vocabulary and develop their minds.

When the economy is down, such as it is now, libraries are also great for low-income families looking to find inexpensive programs to partake in.

So how is it that the Athabasca library finds itself struggling to find enough money to pay rent, when it plays such a key role in the community?

Last week, the library board was forced to beg for the Town of Athabasca council’s help, after the Athabasca Regional Multiplex Society (ARMS) nearly doubled their rent, post-budget submission.

Library board chair Paula Evans said while speaking with council that she can try and make the rent hike work for awhile, but ultimately the library doesn’t have enough money to pay for such a rent increase.

In the end the library board was instructed to negotiate directly with ARMS and bring back a best-case scenario.

When so much capital is invested in promoting sports and athletics in our community – with the construction of the Multiplex, and now talk of building a new state-of-the-art pool – why is the library left struggling to pay their bills? Where are our priorities?

One may argue that reading physical books is a luxury and not a necessity, but development of children’s minds is essential for them to find a good job and function in daily life.

Maybe not everyone will spend their days hidden away in the library stacks, but the investment into our children’s future needs to be made.

Education and the arts need to be supported in Athabasca, and that means supporting the library, not burdening its very existence.

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