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Fort Frances Public Library and Technology Centre, undated. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

Library decision to reduce hours explained

By Randy Thoms Mar 25, 2024 | 1:39 PM

The Fort Frances Library and Technology Centre will open fewer hours starting next week.

The change is the result of budget cuts.

The library will close earlier on Mondays and Thursdays starting April 1st.

Chief Executive Officer Richard Bee says they were the best option as the impact on service is minimal.

“Those were the two days where we typically don’t have a whole lot of activity in the evenings, especially for our Shaw room, which is actually one of our primary revenues,” says Bee.

“That was a factor in choosing what days were selected for the cut just because we didn’t want to, for one, impact regular programming days because people are accustomed to coming in those days. We don’t want to disrupt those schedules.”

Bee says other areas, such as their advertising budget, were trimmed as low as possible.

The hiring of a student to fill a position that had been vacant for some time was also curtailed.

None of the library’s full-time positions was cut, but Bee says the shorter hours will mean the use of call-in staff will be less frequent than in past years.

“We actually had to scale that back substantially to the point where starting in April, all the permanent staff are basically working regularly desk times.”

The library’s budget for the purchase of new resources was left at $30,000.

Bee says that amount has not changed since 2015, while the price of materials has increased.

“Part of the problem is books are typically bought at a US rate. The exchange rate plays into it, so as soon as you’re buying an American book, immediately about 25% of the amount you’re spending is just in the exchange.”

Town adminstration was hoping for a 5% reduction from the library, which town council ultimately rejected, fearing the negative impact it would have on operations.

Bee says that would have been challenging without impacting programming, noting 87% of their budget relates to costs that the library has no control over.