‘Please allow us to enjoy our library again. Please settle whatever the issues are with the library staff. We need our library open again!’ local students say

Bradford Today
Letter to the Editor
September 14, 2023

BradfordToday welcomes letters to the editor at dave@villagemedia.ca or via our website. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following open letter to council is in regards to the ongoing strike of Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library workers.

Dear CEO Matthew Corbett, Members of the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library (BWGPL) Board, Mayor Leduc, Deputy Mayor Sandhu and BWG Ward Councillors:

For the past seven weeks, we’ve watched library workers bear the intense heat of summer to advocate for fair work terms, and we’re really disappointed that the involved parties have not been able to come to an agreement to settle the labour dispute.

Our family, like many others in BWG, have missed out on valuable library services this summer. While the website remains operational and offers digital options, it’s not the same. It’s not even close.

Have you ever read a book on a screen? Like us, you will surely agree that it makes for a very different reading experience than curling up in a chair, opening and turning the pages of a book. And with everything so expensive, the ongoing re-purchasing of books is not a reasonable alternative — at least not for us.

Our younger brothers have missed out on a full TD Summer Reading program, which was always a fun way for us to keep up our reading during the summer months. We have an emerging reader in our home, and he was on a roll with his reading development until our parents could no longer borrow new books on a regular basis to spark his interest. Yes, there are options for him online, but at our house, we’re mindful of screen time too; and so there is even less motivation for my parents to get him doing that.

We ask you, what is the hold up here? We are young and maybe don’t understand all of the background to this dispute, but we don’t understand how an increase of $1.35/hour for the next two years is unreasonable. Have you seen the food prices? Are you refueling your cars at gas stations? We don’t know much about rent yet, but we’re aware enough of how much more expensive everything is now than before.

We are now back to school, and many families like ours are looking for the return of fall programs. As young children, we always loved and looked forward to the amazing in-person library programs run by dedicated and exceptional people like Michelle DeGasperis and Andrea Vanderkooj.

During COVID, when there was literally nothing open for my younger brothers, we saw amazing craft bags come home from the library and we saw pre-recorded videos of Storytime programs online. Even though our little brother wasn’t able to experience in-person library activities and programs throughout that very isolating time, it allowed him to develop a positive connection to the library.

Don’t you want children, from a young age, to enjoy the library and what it has to offer? Right now, with this strike, you are losing the youngest leaders of tomorrow. Quite possibly, they have not yet made a meaningful connection to the local library because they can’t experience it and, in their own way, develop an appreciation for what the library can be to them personally.

On behalf of everyone in our community who values the services and the wonderful, hardworking staff of our library, please reopen.

Libraries are changing and adjusting to the digital world; however, the traditional types of library services that have been lost during the last seven weeks represent a huge loss.

We have lived through difficult and forced closures as a result of COVID, and our dependence on screens is at an all time high. And yet, we are being encouraged all the time to lessen how much time we spend in front of a screen. We need to read books the old fashioned way, and we need to have in-person programs that help all of us develop and refine our social skills more than ever before.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter. Please allow us to enjoy our library again. Please settle whatever the issues are with the library staff. We need our library open again!

Respectfully submitted,

Brooke Wappel
Bradford resident
Grade 12 student
BWG junior citizen of the year

Lanna Wappel
Bradford resident
Grade 9 student