Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

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Re: City needs to innovate, not slash (May 3). Benjamin Gillies suggests the City of Winnipeg should consider reducing the number of library branches to three or four large branches and a number of small satellites for retrieving requested material. Gillies does not take into consideration the many roles public libraries play in addition to their loaning of materials in a range of formats.

Libraries are civic spaces where people come to read, study and learn. They are venues for engaging in cultural activities and for accessing technologies through public-access computers and the Internet.

They provide meeting places for individuals, groups, organizations and small businesses and offer programs for community members. The Winnipeg Public Library offers literally thousands of programs each year out of its 20 locations.

Branch libraries are important community centres where the public can access information and services without having to leave their neighbourhoods. Suggesting the city shut down a number of branch libraries ignores how libraries are used by the public and their essential role in the development of strong, healthy communities.

Stephen Carney

Manitoba Library Association

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2013 A14

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