Dana DeBenedet from the Dryden public library lobbied the province's finance committee during their visit to the community last week. DeBenedet notes many of their patrons depend on the library for public access to the internet.
"Libraries are at the forefront of many social services in Ontario. The people you have been hearing from today who are talking about mental health crises or addiction issues are our patrons. We are on the front line of those services, as well. We interact with patrons every day who are in crisis and who are coming to the library, sometimes looking for a referral to other social services in the community," she told the committee.
In 2017, the library had over 6,000 connections on just their public access computers. That’s not counting people who are coming into the library with their own devices to access the library's WiFi services.
As an example of the library's fiscal efficiency, DeBenedet noted their programming budget was only around $3,000, but with that $3,000 they provided almost 250 programs to the community. Roughly 96 per cent of the library's budget comes from the city.
"Our libraries are a lifeline for many seniors in this community, keeping them involved and active in their community and helping to combat social isolation," DeBenedet added, noting many patrons live across the street at Princess Court, but may never actually set foot in the library over the winter months. Instead, they'll take advantage of many of the electronic or online services being offered.
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