While agreeing to provide annual financial support to NWT Centennial Library, town council wants it to seek to raise more money on its own.
A delegation from the Hay River Library Committee appeared before council on Dec. 7 to make the case – successfully – for $165,000 in financial support in the town’s 2016 budget.
During the committee’s presentation, Coun. Roger Candow wondered why the library does not charge late fees for its books.
Later in the meeting, after the library committee had left, more concerns were expressed by councillors about the library’s fundraising.
“They have the ability to raise more money themselves and they choose not to,” said Candow, again mentioning not collecting late fees.
Ruth Boden, the town’s director of finance and administration, told Candow that the library had tried to collect late fees in the past but it became administratively burdensome.
“But they’re the only library that I know of that doesn’t collect late fees,” Candow replied. “To me, they’re missing their own boat on collecting it for money, and they choose not to.”
Other councillors also wondered why the library is not taking advantage of some fundraising opportunities.
Deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind said the town had given the library fundraising ideas three years ago.
“I get they’re a volunteer board, so it’s not always just as easy as saying go out there and find other monies but there are other ways for them to find money,” she said.
Coun. Jason Coakwell noted classes and workshops occasionally offered at the library are always free but some fee could be charged for them.
“They have lots of opportunities to raise something,” he said. “I don’t know if we can challenge them to do that.”
Coun. Mike Maher suggested a donation box.
Mayor Brad Mapes – who is also chair of the Hay River Museum Society – noted the Hay River Heritage Centre collects about $5,000 from a donation box in a matter of four months.
Jungkind also said she has attended free classes at the library, such as for photography, and would put some money in a donation box.
“I feel like they don’t even take those little opportunities to try and collect some of those other revenue resources,” she said. “I get that not everybody can pay and I get the general feeling behind it of what they’re trying to accomplish over there is leave it open to everybody.”
Pat Wray, chair of the Hay River Library Committee, realizes there is a need for the library to obtain more funding.
“We have considered a lot of different ways to raise money,” she said when contacted by The Hub.
Wray aid the library committee is now putting together various ideas because it knows something will have to be done to make up for shortfalls to do such things as buy new computers.
The annual Book Appeal will also be made fresher and start earlier in the year, she added. “That’s going to be a big project in the spring.”
After that, the library committee will consider other initiatives.
“It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight,” Wray said.
She noted the library already does a lot of fundraising, and has obtained support for things like English as a second language classes, computer courses for seniors, healthy children initiatives, federal grants for summer workers, and support from the Canada Council for the Arts to bring in authors.
Wray stressed the library committee appreciates the support over the years from the Town of Hay River.