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General News · 30th April 2012
Noba Anderson
Our Cortes library was closed last Friday April 27th by Vancouver Island Regional Library’s (VIRL) executive director Rosemary Bonanno, and the plan as of the closure was to remove books from the library this week. Nobody had advance notice, not even VIRL’s executive board members.

Over the weekend I spoke with the VIRL board chair Ronna-Rae Leonard, the VIRL board vice-chair and Strathcona Regional District representative Brenda Leigh, and with members of the Cortes Library Committee. This morning, I wrote a letter to the VIRL board asking that they immediately reverse the decision to remove books from the library this week, and that they accept an emergency delegation to their executive board meeting in Nanaimo this Friday May 4th. I am also making a few inquiries into other temporary options for VIRL’s consideration.

I will wait a couple of days for a response from them before posting the letter in its entirety, but offer below a few segments thereof.

If you want to express your opinion about this closure decision, I would strongly encourage you to send letters to the following people, myself included.

Ronna-Rae Leonard, VIRL Board Chair
The full VIRL board -
Brenda Leigh – VIRL Vice Chair -
George Abbott - Minister of Education -
Claire Trevena – North Island MLA -
Noba Anderson – Regional Director, Cortes Island –

Excerpts from a letter to VIRL board Chair Ronna-Rae Leonard & VIRL Executive Trustees dated April 30, 2012.

I write to you as the Regional Director for Cortes Island about the sudden closure of the Cortes library. At the end of this letter I have two immediate requests. For VIRL staff to make the decision to close a library branch without any notice to anyone and without alternate plans for provision of library service to the Cortes community is outrageous. And to make this hasty decision apparently based on a structural concern but without there being any new substantive or specific structural information is abhorrent. The space has been leased by VIRL since 1998. Nothing has changed to the space. To the best of my understanding, the VIRL board was made aware over two years ago that the space leased by them on Cortes did not meet floor load requirements and was willing to assume this liability risk as long as efforts were under way to find a new space for the Cortes branch. Those efforts are not over. This issue should come back to the VIRL board for consideration and it is at the board table that a decision on a course of action should be taken. This is a major service decision that should be made by the board and with care. …

To simply default to books by mail is totally unworkable even in the short term given the Cortes postal system for reasons I would happily further explain. …

The decision to remove books this week must be over-turned or reversed today and an appropriate course of action decided by the VIRL board. I have received many emails and phone calls from upset Cortes library users who are trying to figure out how to best protest against this decision. I believe that the immediate removal of materials would be quite provocative at this time. There must be a better course of action available, and I am more than willing to help find solutions. …

I also understand that after VIRL’s experience of Quadra Island’s outcry regarding the lack of public process associated with the recent library relocation on our neighbouring island, that the VIRL board has adopted a new commitment to public process regarding the provision of new library spaces. I would think that there would also be a public process for the closure of a library.

I would respectfully request that the board chair immediately request that books not be removed from the Cortes branch until the executive committee has been able to meet and discuss options. I would further request that the executive committee accept my request to appear as an emergency delegation at your May 4th meeting in Nanaimo.

I await your prompt response.


Noba Anderson, Regional Director