Saturday, January 30, 2010

CNIB Right to Read

Did you know that the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) library receives no government funding toward their operations?
Unlike most other public libraries in Canada the CNIB library operates solely on charitable donation, a situation that has become unsustainable for the future of this incredibly important collection.

The CNIB is Canada's largest producer of accessible reading materials for the visually impaired; their circulation is approximately two million items per year. The collection is very diverse including braille, audio recordings and accessible digital formats. This library has been serving Canadians for 90 years entirely subsidized by the CNIB. Producing materials along with operating a library that requires accessible infrastructure and specially trained staff is costly. In most industrialized countries including the United States, Sweden and Denmark, libraries like the CNIB are supported by the government, so why is it not in Canada?

The CNIB is asking the federal, provincial and territorial governments to partner with the organization to share the cost of maintaining library service for the visually impaired in the same way public libraries are funded. Immediate government funding is needed to ensure that vital services remain accessible to the library's patrons. Without the support of government, people who rely on the CNIB library services will face a significant erosion in services beginning in April. This includes increased wait times and fewer books available for readers.

Our governments are currently drawing up budgets for the coming year and the CNIB needs support from Canadians to ensure that library services for everyone are maintained. The CNIB is continuing to support this organization and the governments of Ontario and Alberta (go Alberta!) have been leaders in committing funds to this cause. The federal government and the remaining provinces and territories must do so as well!

You can help by writing a letter to Stephen Harper and you Premier. The CNIB site has an online letter you can fill out with your information - it only takes a couple of minutes and is the driving force behind this initiative. We need to let our government know that we think this is a very important program and that as Canadians we support access to reading materials for everyone.

You can also join the Right to Read campaign on Facebook for progress updates.

Also check out the CNIB Right to Read website for more information about this important initiative (which ties in nicely with Freedom to Read Week)

I know all of you 'freedom to read' loving future librarians know a lot of other librarians, reader, socially conscious folk - please help to spread the word about this issue and flood our government leaders' mailboxes with support for the CNIB library.

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