Friday, 2 March 2012

Funding Gap has Library Mulling More Ads

Samin Esha, National Post, Feb. 29, 2012

Due date reminders may soon include advertising after the Toronto Public Library board approved a motion to explore all options for raising revenue.
“We had been asked to make do, not just with zero budget, but in the past year we had to cut 6% of our budget,” said Michael Foderick, vice-chairman of the Toronto public library board. “So, if we are even going maintain our existing services, given the inflation, we have to think outside the box.”

Until now the public library has only allowed sponsorships with some ads in its printed program guides. The idea would be to hire contractor to sell ads that would be printed on the backs of due-date slips, and expand the ads that already appear in its What’s On publication. The library board also hopes to hire a consultant to look for other advertising opportunities.

“Let’s be clear, you will never see billboards,” said Mr. Foderick. “Neither would it look like the TTC. That’s going too far. These are modest ideas that will help us save our libraries.”

“That’s baloney,” countered board member and councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York). “In fact, this year when we went to the council they added the $7-million [back] to the budget. I don’t think this is a choice of having advertisement or having our libraries open. This is the Mayor’s hand-picked board, and they see advertisement as a legitimate way to raise money at the library. I don’t, and I will continue to do what I can to limit the amount of ads in our libraries.”
In the hours before Monday night’s meeting, Ms. Davis went so far as to say that advertising is “like cocaine of revenues. Because of the capacity, you want more and it keeps on growing.” She later backtracked, saying that choice of words may not have been appropriate.
Board chair Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East) dismissed Ms. Davis’s criticisms.
“I guess the board had a division of opinion with Councillor Davis…. We have been discussing this since last fall. This is also in our library agenda and is published on our library website,” said Mr. Ainslie. “The policy would follow the Canadian Code of Advertisement Standards. We also have our advertisement policies and procedures in place. So, it would be done in a tasteful manner, and I have a great amount of faith in our team.”
Ms. Davis and councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) — who opposes the idea of “bombarding public and children with ads” — were the only members of the 13-person board to vote against the plan.

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