MULGRAVE: An MLA says the province needs to review the funding model for public libraries.

During a recent question period in the Nova Scotia Legislature, MLA Pat Dunn, asked Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, Leo Glavine, if the government will commit to “reviewing the core funding model for public libraries during the current year.”

Glavine said the province does need to review the funding model, adding there is a team of librarians from across the province working with the department on a future funding model set to come from the committee this spring.

Dunn said it’s been eight years since public libraries received what he called “any significant funding” and asked Glavine to commit to an increase in funding for Nova Scotian public libraries this year. Glavine responded by saying the province gave all nine regional libraries approximately $52,000 each before the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

When contacted for comment, Eastern counties regional library (ECRL) chief librarian Laura Emery said the exact figure is $52,667, which she called the ERCL’s take of the additional funding provided by the province.

“What they did is they are doing a second one-time grant of $474,000 to all of the public library systems across the province and they are dividing that equally among the public library systems,” said Emery. “We get an equal share, which is unusual and much appreciated.”

Emery said the operational budget for ECRL will likely be the same as last year but they are early into their own budget talks. Emery said the normal budget includes a share from the province, a share from local municipalities, and then the ECRL contributes three per cent of the total.

“We very appreciative of the support from the Department of [Communities, Culture and Heritage],” she said. “The difficulty is that the government has been trying to lead everyone through a process over the last couple of years of coming up with a new funding formula. Coming to an agreement on something other than a population based funding formula hasn’t been possible so far.”

Emery said the province is working on evaluating what every library should be doing.

“I know they’re trying to articulate what should a small rural library in Canso be doing and St. Peter’s and what normal services everyone should have and then working backwards from that,” she said. “To give them credit, they’re considering the issue thoroughly. However, I think the answer is like a lot of things in Nova Scotia which is it needs more money and that’s not a popular answer because everyone needs more money.”