Communications have broken down in the Burlington public library system, resulting in a decline in service.

That’s in direct opposition to the library board’s goal of making sure that library services are delivered efficiently and effectively – with an eye to the future.

As a member of the refugee committee at Holy Rosary Church in Burlington, I was assigned to put up as many posters as I could to advertise the April 8 appearance of the Toronto All-Star Band at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. All proceeds from the event are going to help bring a refugee family to the city.

I made my first drop-off at Central Library three weeks prior to the event and was told the poster first had to go to the marketing director for approval.

When the poster didn’t appear on the bulletin board in the next 10 days, I dropped off a second one and was assured it would go up as soon as the volunteer came in for her weekly duty.

Incredibly, while other posters advertising events well beyond April 8 were given prominent positions, there still was no posting of the Big Band evening one week in advance of the event. Therefore I left a third poster on a Friday afternoon.

The next day, Saturday, April 2, while covering a public transit meeting at the library, I notice there was still nothing posted. That’s when I took things into my own hands and removed a poster promoting a Canadian Association for Retired Persons forum on diabetes, which had been already been held at the Burlington Seniors Centre on March 22, and tacked up my fourth poster just above a personal ad, offering income tax preparation, which by the way is not permitted according to the library’s rules for community display boards

I could have walked to Toronto and back to fetch the CD I ordered through the Inter-Library Service the Burlington system is connected to. I requested a disk on How To Speak Slovak in early March and when I dropped into Central on April 1 to ask why I had not received a call about the disk, was told it would only be about another two weeks before I had it.

I requested a short interview with Chief Executive Officer Maureen Barry, but was told she was just about to go into a meeting. When I called the next day, I got her answering machine but did not have my call returned.

It reminded me of the time I called the main number at CBC in Toronto and asked to speak to a producer. The receptionist asked if he was expecting my call. When I said, no, that I simply wanted to ask him a couple of questions for an interview, she informed me company policy was to first make an appointment to speak to someone on the phone!

The Burlington Convention Centre declined to take a poster, claiming the families of brides and grooms don’t want their wedding day dinner venues cluttered with junk. I say pooh-pooh to that when the advertising is being used to promote fund-raising events that will get refugees out of tents in Jordan and settled in a new life in Canada.

The library at least has a bulletin board. That’s a lot more than can be said for major retail outlets in the private sector like Fortino’s, Shopper’s Drug Mart and Tim Hortons, who attract the kind of foot traffic that could lead to a larger public response to community events. In fairness, these companies support local groups in other ways.

Making things more difficult for hard-working community organizations, financially troubled CHCH-TV has scaled back its on-location telecasts designed to promote community events.

On a positive note, I continue to be encouraged by the total co-operation between the churches of all faiths in the city in promoting each other’s events. As it should be, they have a common goal of helping the poor and needy any way they can.

Thank God for the clergy and congregations of those houses of worship.

Written by: Denis Gibbons

Providing a fresh perspective for Hamilton and Burlington

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